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.
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 Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. 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 companies Thales and Dassault Aviation 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