By Ludovic Dumont– General Delegate, MBDA
New Delhi. 14 August 2022. MBDA is proud to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence Day. India and MBDA share a long history of partnership in equipping the Indian Armed Forces going back to the early days of India’s independence.
MBDA today has two focuses providing the highest performing missile technologies to India, and secondly supporting Atmanirbhar Bharat as part of MBDA’s longstanding partnership strategy with India.
All of India’s military services branches currently rely on MBDA-designed equipment to complete their missions. One superb example of this first pillar are the Indian Air Force’s new Rafale fighter aircraft that are flying fully equipped with truly game changing set of weapons from MBDA – the revolutionary Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, MICA air combat missile and SCALP deep strike missile. These are the highest performing missiles of their type available anywhere in the world, providing India the ability to stealthily strike deep at enemy targets and to dominate totally in air combat.
MBDA has been actively working in partnership with India’s government and industry to build India’s defence industrial capabilities for over 50 years. Over this time, many tens of thousands of MBDAdesigned missiles have been built in India and we continue to deepen and deliver on new programmes.
Today MBDA is working closely across the Indian defence ecosystem to deliver these two strategic pillars – deliver on Atmanirbhar Bharat while providing world-best technologies to equip the serving personnel of the Indian Armed Forces. This includes close co-operation with DPSUs such as Bharat Dynamics Limited, with whom agreements were recently signed to conduct the final assembly, integration and testing (FAIT) of ASRAAM and Mistral missiles in India for the Indian Air Force. It also includes close co-operation with private sector Indian firms, a notable example being MBDA’s joint venture with Larsen & Toubro, L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd. This JV already has a fully working site in Coimbatore manufacturing missile and missile launcher components and is competing to provide local Indian solutions for tenders such as it offer of Sea Ceptor, the latest generation of naval air defence system, for the Indian Navy’s Short-Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) requirement.
Indian Navy’s newest Kalvari-class submarines have provided a major boost to India’s naval combat capabilities in littoral and blue waters, thanks to their MBDA SM39 Exocet submarine-launched antiship missiles. World-renowned for its anti-ship abilities, the sea-skimming SM39 Exocet is launched while the submarine remains underwater, giving the Indian Navy’s Kalvari-class an impressive abilityto attack warships undetected from long ranges. With the Rafale also being considered by the Indian Navy as a carrier launched fighter, MBDA is also in discussions to bring the world-beating Meteor and other weapons into Indian Navy service.
The first industrial partnership between India and MBDA goes back to the first generation of antitank missiles in co-operation with the Indian Army. Today the mainstay of the Indian Army’s anti-tank capabilities is the MILAN anti-tank guided missile. Designed by MBDA and built in India, the third- generation MILAN missile remains a feared weapon on the battlefield. MBDA and Indian industry are today partnering to provide the next generation technologies of battlefield anti-tank weapons for India’s military.
Rafale is not the only of the IAF’s aircraft whose combat edge is provided by MBDA-designed weapons. Another example is ASRAAM, which is being delivered to the IAF as its New Generation Close Combat Missile programme, to arm the IAF’s upgraded Jaguar fleet, Tejas LCA M1A, and potentially other IAF platforms. Supporting both the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army is the Mistral man portable air defence system (MANPADS) that has already performed exceptionally well in firing evaluation trials for India, more than meeting India’s operational requirements and what was demanded of the missile system in mountain, desert and maritime conditions. Mistral has already been selected and integrated into the ATAM helicopter launch system for India’s helicopters (namely ALH and LCH), operating Mistral as a MANPADS system will offer major logistics and stock management advantages.