India’s long-awaited MMRCA project with Dassault could be affected in the wake of New Delhi’s decision to stay all future projects with Finmeccanica, its subsidiaries and affiliates.
Finmeccanica holds a 25 per cent share in MBDA, a joint venture with EADS (now Airbus) and BAE Systems, which is pitching its Meteor air-to-air missile to India as a weapon for its planned fleet of 126 Rafale fighters.
“This is ideal for the Rafale,” an MBDA official told Aviation Week last year. “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, the report added.
The Meteor deal is only one of many projects MDBA is hoping to nab in India.
Earlier this year, India signed a $428 million contract with MBDA to equip its Jaguar aircraft with MBDAs ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missile.
The ASRAAM has been designated as the “new generation close combat missile” (NGCCM) by the Indian air force. MBDA says the weapon “will provide both close combat and near beyond-visual-range capabilities” for the aircraft. “Part of the Jaguar upgrade programme involves integrating a HMD [helmet-mounted display], and here ASRAAM can offer proven digital interface and functionality.”
Meanwhile, it’s unclear how the ban will affect the IAFs Mirage 2000 upgrade. In 2012, MBDA won a $1.3 billion contract for 493 Mica air-to-air missiles, which are to be delivered between 2015 and 2019 as part of the upgrade.
To replace life-expired Matra Super 530D and Magic II missiles, the new weapon has a key advantage over the earlier systems due to its 112kg (246lb) weight. This means the upgraded Mirage can be configured to carry four radar- and two infrared-guided missiles.
“MBDA has been working closely with Thales, which has been responsible for the integration work on the first Mirage upgrades carried out at the French air force base in Istres, and [is] training HAL engineers in readiness for carrying out the integration work on the remaining Mirage aircraft in India,” the European guided weapons manufacturer was quoted as saying last year.