IAF to sign missile deal with MBDA shortly

Report & Photo(s): By SP's Special Correspondent January 20, 2014

The Indian Air Force is expected to shortly close a deal with European missile company MBDA for 384 ASRAAM imaging infrared homing air-to-air missile as the new close combat missile for the Jaguar, replacing the now obsolete Matra Magic R550. After announcing its requirement in 2009, the ASRAAM was chosen by the IAF last year in a two-horse race against the Rafael Advanced Systems Python-5 of Israel, the latter separately selected as the secondary close combat heat seeking missile for the LCA Tejas.

The ASRAAM was demonstrated to the IAF at an RAF facility, UK in 2011 in the intended over-wing pylon configuration. The ASRAAM has a proven ability to be launched upwards to significant altitude and crucial for the Jaguar fighter bomber, since its mission profile largely necessitates flying at low altitudes. MBDA is understood to have won the competition also because it became apparent that integrating the Python-5, a heavier missile, would have required modifications that the IAF was not prepared to commit time for. A contract for the ASRAAM is expected to be signed within this financial year.