The development of enclosed weapons pods for non-stealth fighter jets is being considered by India’s top defence organisation (DRDO) in order to lower radar cross sections while carrying a significant ammunition load. In addition to lowering radar cross section and reducing drag, enclosed weapons pods will also increase the aircraft’s low observability.
For the domestic Tejas Mk1A and Mk2 fleet, which have low radar cross sections due to their high composite construction—the Mk2 has a smaller cross section than the Mk1A despite being a bigger jet—enclosed weapons pods are being examined.
Enclosed Armaments Pods will be a center-line pod that can hold up to four Astra medium-range air-to-air missiles, six SAAW missiles, two Astra, or one 500 kg laser-guided bomb, among other weapons.
In particular missions, enhanced weapons pods will enable the aircraft to carry stealthy weapons, enhancing flying characteristics, drag, and signature levels. In order to determine if many Enclosed Weapons Pods can be incorporated into a single aircraft, as well as the impact that would have on the airframe and the aircraft’s capacity for high-speed manoeuvres, DRDO plans to conduct feasibility studies on design and measurement of signature levels. It’s unclear if it will progress forward because it’s still just an idea at this point.