June 30, 2007:
Although India has access to Russian
smart bomb technology, and could build Russia smart bombs under license, it
prefers to make a deal to produce American laser guided bombs. India is
negotiating a manufacturing license for the U.S. Enhanced Paveway-II Dual Mode
GPS/Laser Guided Bombs. This is a guidance kit, attached to a one ton, half ton
or quarter ton bomb, that can achieve precise (within a meter or less) accuracy
using a laser designator, or use GPS guidance to land within ten meters of the
aiming point. The U.S. firm that manufactures the Paveway bombs, Raytheon, has
manufactured over 250,000 so far, of which about twenty percent have been used
in combat, with great success. India is impressed by that kind of combat
record, and wants to go with the best.
India has used the Paveway bombs before, having
purchased some in the 1990s. That supply was cut off when India and Pakistan
openly tested their nuclear bombs in 1998. Although the Paveways have a shelf
life of only ten years, most of the ones India bought in the 1990s are still in
working order. But these will soon be too old to use, and India wants more.
Built in America, these bomb kits cost over $40,000 each. But with lower
production costs, India can cut that price almost in half.