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French Government Has Authorised an Unprecedented Level of Technology Transfer Which Will See India Gain Vital Access To Key Seeker And Hot Launch Technologies
Country Head, India, MBDA Group, Loïc Piedevache

Loic Piedevache Has the IAF finalised the weapons suite for Rafale? Which of the MBDA’s missile would be a part of this package? What future opportunities are you looking at in the MMRCA programme?
We are closely involved in the current discussions, both with the Indian Air Force (IAF) and with Dassault Aviation regarding the range of weapons that MBDA is offering. Weapons such as MICA in both its RF and IR variants for providing short-to-beyond visual range air combat capabilities, Exocet for anti-ship and Storm Shadow/SCALP for long standoff land strike, feature in these discussions. Meteor is also a weapon of interest given the advantages that it offers in the beyond visual range air to air missile (BVRAAM) domain and that its integration programme on the French air force’s Rafale is progressing at pace.

Are you looking at opportunities in the LCA Tejas programme? Which missiles do you think will fit in to the Tejas requirements?
MBDA’s range of air-launched weapons offers optimum capabilities in both the air to air and the air to surface domains. In this respect we remain at the disposal of the ADA, the IAF and the Indian Navy to discuss a number of MBDA solutions that would significantly enhance Tejas’ both air force and naval versions lethality and operational versatility

Tell us about MBDA’s role in the IAF fighter jet upgrade programmes?
MBDA’s role is a major one in both the Mirage and the Jaguar upgrade programmes. In 2012 MBDA was awarded the contract to supply MICA in both its RF and IR versions for the future upgraded Mirage 2000. Armed with a mixed configuration of six MICAs, the IAF’s Mirage pilots will have true mastery over both the short and beyond visual range air combat domains. The integration work is progressing on schedule and we have been working closely with Thales as well as training HAL engineers in Istres so that they can carry out the remaining integration work in India.

Last year we were awarded the contract to replace the R550 Magic 1 short range missiles on the IAF’s fleet of Jaguars with MBDA’s ASRAAM. When it enters service with the IAF, the missile will be known as NGCCM, or the New Generation Close Combat Missile, and will provide the Jaguar with the very best in close combat, air dominance weaponry. ASRAAM will be fitted to above wing pylons on the Jaguar, freeing the underwing stations for air-to-surface weapons in keeping with the aircraft’s main mission as a bomber. The weapon forms a critical part of the Jaguar upgrade to the DARIN II level, combined with the aircraft’s new multi-mode fire control radar and the helmet mounted sighting system will provide the IAF with a phenomenal capability, worthy of the most modern of air forces.

Did you offer dual mode Brimstone missile for the Indian forces? What kind of response did you get so far?
Brimstone has been making headlines around the world for very good reasons. In demanding combat conditions in both Afghanistan and Libya, the weapon with its dual seeker capability has proven itself to be indispensable in the kind of modern combat where you need options to deal with a range of static and fast moving ground targets, be they armoured vehicles, 4x4s or snipers hidden behind walls. It has also proven its unmatched capability on dealing with maritime targets such as the growing FIAC (Fast Inshore Attack Craft) threat. So naturally, India is interested and we have made the IAF fully aware of the weapon’s capabilities. Regarding the response, I don’t want to go into detail but it has been very positive indeed.

Give us an update on the Maitri programme? In terms of work-share what is the division of labour between MBDA and DRDO?
MBDA’s partnership with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is a strong one and we have come a long way together in preparing the SRSAM solution for the Indian forces. For this project, the DRDO is the design authority and over 80 per cent of the overall contract value will go towards Indian industry. So, as you can see, this is well and truly a ‘Make in India’ project, these are not just idle words. The French government has authorised an unprecedented level of technology transfer which will see India and its defence industry gain vital access to key seeker and hot launch technologies, not to mention automated production line know-how.

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