-Srivatsa RV

An Alpha Defense Exclusive

One of the premier DRDO laboratories, Armament Research and Development Establishment, Pune has floated out specifications for the development of a new air-launched, all-weather precision-guided munition and is looking for Development cum Production Partners within the Indian Defense industry with relevant experience.

Termed as the PGM-500 (Precision Guided Munition), will be our own desi, yet fully configurable 500-pound class bomb, it will be fully adaptable to the existent Paveway-2 and Griffin PGM Guidance kits allowing for a higher degree of mission planning. The report indicates to make use of this from Russian and Western origin aircraft, hinting and confirming our suspicion of the IAF already has every jet (Tejas, Mirage-2000, Su-30MKI, Mig-29UPG, Jaguar DARIN-3) in the inventory now configured to drop PGMs, that form the bedrock of aerial bombardment in this era.

Schematic of PGM 500

Its primary role will be bunker-busting of RCC-made structures, enabled by a 450 kg High Explosive Penetration (HEP) warhead. Interesting to note when it comes to bunker-busting armament, the development of the fuse is critical, and in this front, ARDE has planned for a twin-impact delay fuse. The current requirements indicated stand at 1000 units over a 10 year period as hinted by IAF to ARDE. Composing of two variants of this new PGM-500 bomb, that will be validated during the User Assisted Technical Trials (UATT) phase.

Specifications and Capabilities of the PGM-500

The PGM-500 bomb will be capable of operating in a configurable Arming-Delay and Post-Impact mode as well as a user-defined programmable delay time allowing for a decisive launch.

Current specifications and requirements to be fulfilled by the firm that will partner with ARDE are as follows:

Flight EnvironmentsRelease Speed- 500-1200km/h (0.95 mach)
 Release Height – 500m-10km
 Release Angle – 0 to -45 degree (Dive), +45 degree (Loft)
 Flgiht Time – 600s 
Terminal Conditions Impact Velocity – 150m/s to 400m/s
 Impact Decelleration Capabilities 
 G Tolerance – 100 ‘g’ for impact sensing, 15000 ‘g’ for post impact delay 
General Requirements Shelf Life – 15+ years
 Operating Temperatures – (-40 to 70 degree)
Desirable Requirements Long Delay post impact – Upto 48 hours!

Production, DRDO-Private Player Relations

The bomb under development will first be developed to prototype and validate, and 3 units are to be used for RTRS trials, if successful ARDE will give go-ahead to manufacture the rest of the ordered quantity.

The DRDO’s role here has been limited to design support whenever required, and the firm shall carry out the rest of the work utilizing facilities of DRDO and other PSUs that will be hosting the testing phase. Once complete, the Licensing Agreement for Transfer of Technology (LATOT) will be signed by the parties involved.

The production will see the making of two variants of this bomb,

  1. High-Explosive PGB-500 Variant – Will come with nearly 112kg of explosive filling complete with nearly 438 kg bomb mass. This will be an operational variant.
  2. Inert Filling PGB-500 Variant- Will come with Melt-Cast High Explosive substitute, that will match the 438 kg warhead density of the HE variant. This will be testing and used for exercises etc.

Final Thoughts

  • Interesting to note that ARDE is looking for a highly capable partner, with the intention of making them Lead-Systems Integrator, it specifies the interest to have a production capacity of more than 200 units per year! This is insane and puts India on the right track considering the increase in fleet numbers shortly after the LCA orders start coming in.
  • India needs to collect more critical technologies under its Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) belt, in order to fuel more development and not fall prey to complications caused by the same.
  • Bunker buster bombs in general, are produced in ample quantities considering their role will prove pivotal during an air-raid, and having said earlier that almost every aircraft in IAF inventory is cleared for this class of munition, we can expect the future orders to grow.
  • Interoperability is another commendable feat that IAF has achieved, having operated a large class of diverse equipment, we now see a lot of hybrid approaches, such as the integration of Griffin/Paveway-2 Guidance kit onto the same PGM-500 we are developing, this not only saves time during production but also re-inforces the already validated Guidance-Kit to Aircraft mating done earlier.

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