Europe’s MBDA is pitching its Meteor air-to-air missile to India as a weapon for its planned fleet of 126 fighters.
“This is ideal for the Rafale,” an MBDA official tells Aviation Week. “It’s already part of the French fighter. India will just need to plug [it] in.”
The missile is in its preproduction phase and has been designated by the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and Spain for their future beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile requirement, he says. MBDA tested the Meteor from a Rafale late last year, and the first fully guided test firing is expected in 2012.
India has yet to sign an estimated $18 billion deal for the Rafales under its Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program.
The Meteor deal is just one of numerous contracts that MBDA is hoping to win in India. The company is also pursuing a contract to provide thewith its advanced, short-range air-to-air missile (Asraam) for more than 100 of the IAF’s upgraded Jaguar fighters.
MBDA’s Asraam has been shortlisted along with Israel’s Rafael-made Python-5. The Indian government is likely to announce the winner of the $300 million project shortly.
The missiles will be mounted on the Jaguar’s unique over-wing pylons and carried on a rail launcher.
IAF’s Jaguar fleet, which currently carries out-of-production Matra R550 Magic short-range heat-seeking missiles, is looking to buy up to 300 missiles to augment its air-to-air defense system.
The missile acquisition is part of a long-delayed Jaguar modernization drive that also includes new turbofan engines — likely to be theF125 IN — glass cockpits, an autopilot and stand-off strike munitions.
The Jaguar fleet’s modernization is intended to keep the platform in service until after 2030. Since the first Jaguars arrived in India in 1979, they’ve been license-built by. and modernized in phases to give them advanced navigation/attack systems.
MBDA also won a $1.5 billion contract in January 2012 to supply the MICA air-to-air missiles for IAF’s 51 upgraded Mirage 2000s. The French air force uses the all-weather air-to-air missile, which has a range of about 80 km, on both its Mirage 2000s and Rafales.
“The program implementation will be in accordance with the delivery schedule of the upgraded Mirage aircraft,” the MBDA official says.
India signed a deal in 2011 with French companiesand to upgrade Mirage 2000H aircraft to Dassault’s Mirage 2000-9 standard. The aircraft’s midlife upgrade is expected to be completed by mid-2021, according to Defense Minister A.K. Antony.
MBDA is also eyeing “a huge contract” to supply its Mistral anti-aircraft system to the Indian army, air force and special forces. In a three-way fight, Mistral is vying with SAAB’s RBS-70 NG and Russia’s KBM new generation Igla-S. The estimated $6 billion Indian tender will include the purchase of more than 800 launchers and 5,000 missiles.
MBDA plans to establish a production line in India after transfer of technology if it wins the deal. “Should we be selected, there could of course be a single Mistral production line in India for both the Dhruv and for the surface-to-air requirement,” the official says. “We are awaiting a decision on the downselect for the program and expect a decision soon.”
MBDA is also offering its PARS 3 LR missiles for an Indian anti-tank guided missile requirement. “The field evaluation trials have been successful and the Indian side seems to be happy,” the official says. “Again, we await a decision on this.”
Rafale photo: Dassault