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Aero India 2023: Munitions India to start mass producing 1,000 lb thermobaric bombs

A cutout model of the 1000 lb thermobaric bomb. (Janes/Rahul Udoshi)

India's state-run Munitions India Limited (MIL) will start the mass production and supply of 1,000 lb thermobaric bombs from 2023, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said at the Aero India 2023 show, which concluded on 17 February.

An official from the DRDO's High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) told Janes that the technology transfer to produce the 1,000 lb thermobaric bomb has been transferred to the MIL, which is also an agency under the DRDO. An initial order of 500 units from the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be delivered by the end of 2023, he said.

HEMRL started the development of the 1,000 lb thermobaric bomb in 2018. The munition has been qualified in flight tests, including a demonstration of its blast capability, an HEMRL official said.

The weapon uses a British 1,000 lb general-purpose (GP) bomb casing design and has 10-inch (Russian) and 14-inch (NATO) lug spacing to be carried on fighter aircraft, including the IAF's Su-30MKI.

With the use of the existing casing design, HEMRL maintained the same weapons mass properties, which enabled fast-tracked development. The munition also features ‘metalised enhanced blast explosive' filling, which is based on the polymer-bonded explosive class of energetic composition with enhanced energetics.

The bomb is effective against soft and medium-hard targets in an open or confined environment. It is credited with a higher blast impulse (more than 30%) and long-duration thermal effects (>1,600º C, >400 ms) in comparison with an identical class of conventional high-explosive munitions. The munition has a shelf life of 20 years.

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