Europe’s MBDA 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 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 the Indian air force with 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 the Honeywell F125 IN — glass cockpits, an autopilot and stand-off strike munitions.