New Delhi. 03 February 2023. MBDA, longstanding partner to the Indian Air Force, is showcasing the newest missiles in Indian service during Aero India 2023, as well as the systems that could help equip all branches of the Indian Armed Forces in the future.
At the centrepiece of the company’s presence this year in Bangalore, are the weapon systems that arm the IAF’s latest Dassault Rafale combat aircraft. These highly potent set of weapons from MBDA give the IAF an air combat capability that is 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 furthers 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 potent air combat 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 a longstanding industrial collaborator for India, with MICA being a prime example – L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd, MBDA’s joint venture with Larsen & Toubro, is exhibiting also at Aero India 2023 where it showcasing the work it performs in Coimbatore on MICA missiles and MICA missile launchers – delivering Make in India projects in support of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
MBDA is also proposing all these potent weapons, as well as the famous Exocet AM39 air launched anti-ship missile for the Rafale M for the new Indian aircraft carrier.
MBDA is not new to partnership with the Indian Armed Forces and Indian industry, indeed it has been delivering battle-winning capabilities to the Indian Air Force and collaborating with Indian industry for over 50 years. Throughout this history, there have been two guiding principles: to provide the very best technologies to the Indian Air Force, and to work in true partnership in support of the Indian Defence Industry. The company then is fully committed to the ‘Make in India’ programme, which aligns with MBDA’s long-term strategy.
Other examples of technological edge equipping the Indian Air Force include the ASRAAM within visual range (or dogfighting) missiles. ASRAAM is providing the IAF’s Jaguar fleet with a step-change in air combat performance – a capability that will soon also enhance the IAF’s new Tejas LCA Mk1A. With its large rocket motor and clean aerodynamic design, ASRAAM has unrivalled speed and resultant aerodynamic manoeuvrability and range. ASRAAM gives it a high kinematic capability that delivers superior end-game performance for within visual range air combat. MBDA also has agreements in place with Bharat Dynamics Limited for ASRAAM to be assembled in India to support Make in India.
The Mistral ATAM system has been successfully integrated on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and final integration is being done on the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Utilisation of the Mistral missile on India’s helicopter platforms also provides a bridge to their use in a ground based VSHORAD role, where the missile is fully compliant with India’s requirements and outperforms the capabilities of its rivals. Again, MBDA and BDL have signed an agreement for the establishment of an assembly line for Mistral missiles in India.
MBDA has an excellent track record providing both operational and industrial capabilities in partnership with the Indian Air Force and Indian Defence Industry. The strength of these two pillars make it a long-term true partnership, and one that should only continue to get stronger.
METEOR is MBDA’s revolutionary ramjet powered and network-enabled beyond visual range air-to-air missile, which is widely recognised as a game changer for air combat. Key to this is Meteor’s throttleable ramjet engine, active radar seeker and datalink that combine to provide unmatched end-game speed and manoeuvrability at greatly extended ranges, resulting in its all-important ‘No-Escape Zone’ being several times greater than any other existing or planned BVR weapons. Meteor is a six-European nation programme that will provide the key future BVR air-to-air armament for Europe’s new generation of combat platforms. The Indian Air Force is receiving this unrivalled system on its new Rafale aircraft, and it is also proposed to arm the naval Rafale M offered to the Indian Navy.
Deep strike is a major requirement for a modern air force. At Aero India 2023, MBDA is displaying SCALP which is being delivered for the Indian Air Force’s Rafale aircraft. The ability to deliver precision strike against high value targets such as well protected control bunkers/centres, key infrastructures and military installations from a safe stand-off distance is crucial in the early days of a conflict. SCALP has proved its unerring and unmatched ability to combine very long range with devastating target effect during combat operations.
ASRAAM is being delivered to the IAF as its New Generation Close Combat Missile programme. With its large rocket motor, and clean aerodynamic design, ASRAAM has unrivalled speed and resultant aerodynamic manoeuvrability and range. ASRAAM gives it a high kinematic capability that delivers superior end-game performance for within visual range air combat. The IAF’s upgraded Jaguar fleet is the first aircraft to receive ASRAAM, with integration currently underway on LCA Mk1A and potentially other IAF platforms in the future.
MICA is being delivered for the IAF’s Mirage 2000 upgrade and for Rafale. Showcased on MBDA’s stand, this is the only missile in the world featuring two interoperable seekers (active radar and imaging infrared) to cover the spectrum from close-in dogfight to long beyond visual range. Its ability to fly out to BVR in passive mode before the seeker locks on in the final stages of the end game has earned it the nickname “silent killer” as the target has little time to react or to deploy effective countermeasures.
MISTRAL ATAM has been delivered to India to equip the HAL weaponised version of the Advanced Light Helicopter, the ALH Rudra. The system is based on two launchers each deploying two MBDA air-to-air Mistral missiles. Given the wide range of roles that the Rudra will have to undertake, ATAM will provide the helicopter’s crew with a weapon that is not only easy to use but one that can be operated in the whole flight envelope from nap of the earth to 15,000ft and at flight speeds from hovering to up to 200 knots. The same system has successfully undergone integration on the LCH platform also manufactured by HAL.
AKERON MP is the only fifth generation anti-tank missile available in the world, and it has been designed for dismounted infantry as well as for integration on combat vehicles. AKERON MP is unique in featuring both fire-and-forget and operator-above-the-loop operation, and being network-enabled AKERON MP can also receive third party target designation for indirect firing scenarios. The technologies pioneered in AKERON MP will be further developed by ATGM5 in India for the specific operational requirements of the Indian Armed Forces.
EXOCET probably ranks as the world’s best known anti-ship missile. It is known in India where the submarine variant, SM39, has been delivered to the Indian Navy to arm its Scorpene submarines (Project 75). The AM39 version can be launched from Maritime Patrol Aircraft, strike fighters such as the Rafale M as well as medium to heavyweight helicopters. Features such as low signature, sea-skimming flight at very low altitudes, late seeker activation, enhanced target discrimination and ECCM combine to make this a redoubtable weapon indeed. The MM40 variant within the EXOCET family is suitable for launch from ships or from coastal batteries. Already in service, this latest generation EXOCET features 3D waypoints, low sea-skimming flight profile and the ability to strike coastal land targets as well as ships.
Sea Ceptor is the next-generation short range surface to air missile (SR SAM) for naval air defence. Through the use of new advanced technologies, Sea Ceptor provides complete protection against all known and projected air targets including saturation attacks across 360° simultaneously. Sea Ceptor utilises the CAMM missile that features a next generation all-weather RF-seeker, two-way datalink and soft-vertical launch system to provide a step-change in performance compared with previous generation systems. Sea Ceptor will protect both the host ship and high value units in the local area. The Weapon System has the capability to intercept and thereby neutralise the full range of current and future threats including combat aircraft and the new generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles.