Interview | Country Head MBDA & MBDA India General Delegate, Ludovic Dumont

Our Number One Priority in India is Always The Same—to Deliver Successfully All Our Programmes for the Indian Armed Forces


Ludovic DumontFrom MBDA’s perspective, how is Aero India 2023 different from its previous editions in terms of your exhibits and participation?

MBDA will have a strong presence at Aero India 2023, through both our main stand and the stand of L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd, our joint venture with Larsen and Toubro. As ever our focus is on delivering the best missile system capabilities to the Indian armed forces, and considering Aero India is principally an air show to the Indian Air Force in particular. Befitting our long-term industrial partnership strategy, Aero India will also be an important occasion for collaborating with our Indian industrial partners to deliver Make in India programmes in support of Aatmanirbhar Bharat.


What is the update on Rafale’s weapons package?

India’s Dassault Rafale combat aircraft provide the Indian Air Force not just with a fast and agile modern fighter but one that comes armed with a highly potent set of weapons from MBDA that are unrivalled by any of India’s neighbours. The most famous of these weapons is the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, which is widely recognised as a game changer for air combat. The Meteor is powered by a unique rocket-ramjet motor that gives Meteor far more engine power, for much longer than any other missile. This means it can fly faster, fly longer, and manoeuvre more than any other missile—giving Meteor the ability to chase down and destroy agile hostile fighters at even the furthest of ranges.

As a result, Meteor has a no-escape zone many times greater than any other air-to-air missile. India’s Rafales are also be equipped with the SCALP deep-strike cruise missile from MBDA to strike hardened and protected targets deep inside hostile territory. The IAF’s Rafales are also be equipped with MICA, a missile the Indian Air Force knows very well as it is also part of the upgrade package for the IAF’s Mirage 2000 aircraft. MBDA is also proposing these weapons and the Exocet AM39 for the Rafale M for the new Indian aircraft carrier.


Which programmes would be your priority in India this year?

Our number one priority in India is always the same—to deliver successfully all our programmes for the Indian armed forces, while forging ever deeper partnerships with both our deeply valued customers and industry partners.


There were talks to Tejas Mk1A fleet equip with the advanced short-range air-to-air missile (ASRAAM) developed by MBDA. Any developments on this that MBDA would want to share? Further, what possibilities do you see in the AMCA programme?

MBDA is supporting HAL under contract for the integration of ASRAAM onto Tejas M1A, which will provide a significant boost to the aircraft’s close combat air-to-air capabilities. We are discussing what MBDA products could provide the best capabilities for AMCA, including systems already in service with the IAF such as ASRAAM, MICA or Meteor.


What progress has the MBDA-L&T JV made so far? Do you see the JV carrying out joint R&D in the future?

L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited (LTMMSL) is a company set up with a vision—to be the ‘lead Indian private missile developer & manufacturer and missile system integrator’ by delivering the best in class Indian-made missiles for the Indian armed forces through participation in ‘Buy (Indian–IDDM)’, ‘Buy (Indian)’, ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ and ‘Make’ categories of defence procurement.

Today, L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited is manufacturing MICA equipment and missile launchers in Coimbatore and exporting them, and some of which are in turn supplied for the Indian Air Force’s Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft. L&T MBDA Missile Systems Limited is bidding on various programmes for the Indian armed forces at the moment: it has offered the vertical launch Sea Ceptor air defence system for the Indian Navy’s SRSAM requirement and is offering a contemporary anti-tank missile (ATGM) as a Make in India programme.


You have a history of cooperation with BDL. How do you envisage building on this legacy in the future?

MBDA and BDL have worked together for more than 50 years and produced more than 50,000 missiles together for the Indian military. Cooperation with BDL forms a key pillar of MBDA’s strategy and commitment to Aatmanirbhar Bharat in partnership with Indian defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) and industry. Most recently MBDA and BDL have agreed to establish facilities for the assembly, integration and test (FAIT) of both ASRAAM and Mistral missiles in India.



Where do you find yourself fitting in government of India’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ intention?

MBDA’s long-term strategy has been one of partnership with India for over 50 years, which has seen us working closely across the Indian defence ecosystem to deliver missile systems in India that provide world-best technologies to equip the serving personnel of the Indian Armed Forces. Over this time, many tens of thousands of MBDA-designed missiles have been built in India and we are constantly striving to deepen these partnerships to deliver on existing and new programmes. MBDA sees therefore a natural symbiosis between our commitment to Indian partnership and Atmanirbhar Bharat.


Technology is moving towards autonomous and intelligent weapons. What kind of futuristic research is going on in MBDA?

MBDA is a world leader in all the defence technologies needed to produce weapon systems that are decisive now and for the future. Whether technologies relate to autonomy, artificial intelligence, sensing, swarming, direct energy, or others, MBDA is at the absolute forefront of technology, and they already feature in our products either in-service in India or offered to the Indian armed forces. To take an example, LTMMSL is locally offering the Sea Ceptor naval air defence system to the Indian Navy for its SRSAM requirement. Sea Ceptor is a highly advanced naval weapon system that thanks to our pioneering research and expertise in these fields features high levels of autonomy and intelligence through both the missile and the wider system. These features enable the Sea Ceptor system to autonomously prioritise threats and optimise the allocation of missiles within an engagement to maximise operational effectiveness—and so provide the very highest level of protection from air attack for Indian sailors.



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