We’re Proud That Today Our Mistral ATAM Air-To-Air Missile System is Fully Integrated on Both the LCH and ALH
What are your current programmes with the Indian armed forces across the three services?
MBDA has been working in partnership with India to supply missile systems to the Indian armed forces and build them in development with Indian industry for over 50 years. To date we have manufactured over 50,000 missiles in India with Indian industry and supply missiles to all of India’s armed service branches. Our joint venture with Larsen and Toubro, L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd, is taking our partnership with India to the next level, setting up facilities in India and bidding on new ‘Make in India’ projects.
Today, we are providing the weapons package for India’s new Rafale fighter aircraft, including the game-changing long range Meteor missile, the SCALP stealthy deep strike cruise missile and the MICA air combat missile, which we are also providing for the IAF’s Mirage 2000. Similarly, our ASRAAM missile was selected as the IAF’s New Generation Close Combat Missile and is being delivered for Jaguar. Meanwhile, our Mistral ATAM system is fully integrated with India’s new LCH and ALH helicopters. For the Indian Navy, we also provide our Exocet SM39 missile for the new Kalvari-class submarines, while for the Indian Army, Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) manufactures our MILAN missile in India.
What are the timelines for the delivery of weapons for Rafale?
We never comment on our customer’s delivery schedules.
Are you in conversation with HAL/ DRDO for LCA Tejas and AMCA? What about Light Combat Helicopter?
Yes, we’re proud that today our Mistral ATAM air-to-air missile system is fully integrated on both the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) of the Indian armed forces. We’re also in discussion with our Indian interlocutors for adding our weapons to other Indian platforms. We have offered ASRAAM as an armament for the Tejas fighter aircraft. ASRAAM is already in the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) portfolio, after it was chosen from competitive evaluation for the New Generation Close Combat Missile programme for the upgraded Jaguar. As ASRAAM delivers superior within visual range combat performance, it could be integrated onto other IAF platforms to enhance their air-to-air combat capabilities.
MBDA has had a very successful relationship with Bharat Dynamics Ltd going back several decades. And now you have a joint venture partnership with L&T. Do you see the possibility of collaborating with BDL on some project? What could that be?
We have had a very close relationship with BDL for over 50 years. Indeed, it was a partnership on an MBDA missile that led to the formation of BDL, and we have since worked together on many missile programmes, including the production by BDL of over 50,000 of our missiles in India. BDL continues to make our missiles in India today, and in 2019 we signed an agreement with BDL to co-operate on some new missile programmes in India, in particular for Mistral and ASRAAM missiles.
What is the update on L&T-MBDA JV? What programmes have you bid for so far? Who are your competitors?
There are currently three main projects that we are pursuing through the joint venture (JV). The JV’s is currently competing for the Indian Navy’s Short-Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) requirement where it is offering Sea Ceptor, a high-performance and modern air defence system that offers excellent protection against all air threats and provides easy platform integration and many space, weight and safety benefits compared with older systems. The JV has also offered ATGM5, the world’s only true 5th Generation Anti-Tank Missile, as an Indian Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) product under the ‘Make in India’ programme. ATGM5 offers many unique capabilities, including being truly network enabled, a multipurpose warhead with selectable effects, and high-performance seeker technologies. Finally, at present the JV is also offering Exocet MM40 Block 3 for the Indian Navy’s Medium Range Anti-Ship Missile (MRAShM) requirement, the latest version of the venerable Exocet missile already in service with the Indian armed forces, which has improved electronics and an extended range.
Does the JV have an element of R&D in India?
Certainly, if you look at our proposal for ATGM5, this would be an IDDM programme for the Indian armed forces, with the major part of the design, the development and the manufacture done in India by the JV—so, including a large component of research and development.
The JV was formed with a mandate on four specific systems for the Indian market. Do you envisage expanding the mandate, by way of systems or region, let’s say in South Asia?
The creation of L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd was a strategic move for both ourselves and our partners, and is one for the long-term. As such we don’t plan any limits on what the JV could do, so far we have bid on three programmes but as India defines new missile requirements we expect to bid on further such opportunities.
Technology is moving towards autonomous and intelligent weapons. What kind of futuristic research is going on in MBDA?
MBDA is world-recognised as a pioneering company at the forefront of global defence research and development. Innovation is a core value at MBDA. One that ensures the strategic and operational advantage of all the nations we work with. That is why at MBDA we encourage a culture of innovation in our people and recognise their efforts annually with an Innovations Awards. Showcasing the volume of innovate research conducted by MBDA, during this year’s awards over 350 innovative projects were nominated for our awards. The top prize this year was won by a project called Fast Targeting that utilised Artificial Intelligence for autonomous target recognition within an intelligent missile seeker.