MBDA’s Missile Systems Competing For Orders From Indian Military

By now it’s a well known fact that the Indian Armed Forces are on a modernisation spree with billions of dollars earmarked for acquisition in the next few years. A large number of multi nationals are in the fray to provide the latest technology and products to the Indian military.

Among these companies is MBDA Missile Systems, an European conglomerate that has a huge family of missiles for almost every possible battlefield requirement that the armed forces seek.

MBDA has recently formed a joint venture with L&T, and is now positioned to compete in the relevant areas where India seeks equipment and technology from abroad for its force modernisation.

The IAF has been keen about arming its Hawk fleet that are currently being used as trainer aircraft. Though the Hawk isn’t exactly built as a fighter, yet budgetary constraints dictate that more and more aircraft should be able to fight should the balloon go up. Normally, the additional seat available in a trainer aircraft is removed to make space for on board systems for fire control and target acquisition.

MBDA’s solution for arming the Hawk is a missile mix. It would have six Brimstone and two ASRAAMs on each of the 120 Hawks. The ASRAAMs are among the best Within Visual Range Air – to – Air Missiles available in the market. It uses a low flame, zero smoke motor with a first shot – first kill probability. Resulting from its larger diameter -166mm –and rigid structure, ASRAAM is better in storage with lower susceptibility to fatigue/shelf life issues.

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According to MBDA officials the ASRAAM seeker is exceptional in performancewhen compared to other missiles currently in use. It ranges in excess of 25 km.

The Brimstones proposed to be co–opted with the ASRAAM are essentially for air to surface role and can target mobile targets on ground. .

In the beyond visual range category Meteor is available one of the most technologically superior missiles that MBDA has on offer. Meteor is a beyond visual range air – to – air missile. The missile is in service with the Swedish air force’s Gripen fleet. Meteor was initially developed for European fighter air crafts Gripen, Eurofighter, Typhoon and Rafael. It’s also to be used for F 35 Lightening II.

The Indians have opted for the Meteor for arming their 36 Rafales. Meteor is designed to be effective at a 100 plus km. Its speed of Mach 4 enhances the no escape zone hugely. These missiles could also be used to arm the Sukhoi 30 MKI.

Among other missiles that a group of Indian defence journalists were briefed about in the MBDA premises in France and UK was the MICA. Basically a multi-mission missile for both BVR and short range aerial engagements, MICA comes with two types of seekers: RF MICA with a radar seeker and IR MICA with dual wave band imaging infra-red seeker.

The Vertically Launched (VL) MICA is for use by surface vessels and is integrated into the combat system of the ship for target designation. It’s launched from individual storage canisters directly, and as such is easy to deploy on board ships. It’s a highly flexible system that can engage air craft, missiles, precision guided munition, helicopters and smart bombs.

By – Brig SK Chatterji (Retired)

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