Celebrating Indian Air Force Day During a Landmark Year

MBDA understands the importance of operational capability to the IAF and has strongly committed to ‘Make in India’ to deliver the best of military equipment to India

Issue: 09-2021By Boris Solomiac, MBDA General Delegate IndiaPhoto(s): By MBDA
Boris Solomiac,
MBDA General Delegate India


Indian Air Force day 2021 comes at a special time when the partnership between MBDA and the IAF has just gotten even deeper with India having received the majority of its new Rafale fighter aircraft.

With Rafale now in the IAF’s inventory, the IAF can also field a new and potent suite of weapons from MBDA. Unquestionably the most famous is the Meteor, the ramjet powered and network-enabled beyond visual range air-to-air missile that is widely recognised as a game changer for air combat. Meteor’s throttle able ramjet engine provides sustained high-supersonic power, making it the only missile able to chase down maneuvering enemies at even the longest of ranges.

No less game-changing for the IAF is the SCALP stealthy airlaunched cruise missile that also forms part of the Rafale weapons package. This potent weapon will give the IAF an unrivalled and flexible tool to conduct deep strike missions at long ranges against even the most protected of hostile targets.

Another MBDA weapon, MICA provides both the Rafale and the newly upgraded IAF Mirage 2000 aircraft with a uniquely flexible approach to air combat. MICA is the only missile in the world featuring two interoperable seekers (active radar and imaging infrared) that makes MICA highly countermeasure resistant and therefore highly effective.

With a strong reputation as a reliable partner that has supported the Indian Air Force for over 50 years, European missile firm MBDA understands the importance of operational capability and sovereignty to the IAF. For these reasons, the company has so strongly committed to ‘Make in India’ to deliver both industrial sovereignty and the best of military equipment to India.

Indian firms now supply key components for key new missiles that are enhancing the combat power of the IAF. For example, Indian industry today provide extensive manufacturing of 15 major sub-assemblies of MICA missile covering various complex technologies such as mechanical, electrical, electromechanical and pyrotechnic items. MBDA continues to deepen its relationship with Indian industry, as seen by the recent formation of a joint venture with long-standing partner Larsen & Toubro to deliver a series of important missile programmes under the ‘Make in India’ category.

The IAF is also getting a major boost with the addition of the ASRAAM as its Next Generation Close Combat Missile. During 2021, MBDA and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) agreed to establish a new facility in Hyderabad to assemble and test this potent air combat missile. With its large rocket motor and clean aerodynamic design, ASRAAM has unrivalled speed and resultant aerodynamic maneuverability and range. ASRAAM gives it a high kinematic capability that delivers superior endgame performance for within visual range air combat. MBDA’s ASRAAM missiles are significantly enhancing the battle capability of India’s Jaguar bombers, giving them unrivalled selfprotection ability and enhanced ability to penetrate hostile airspace. This highly capable weapon could also boost the combat capability of other IAF aircraft.

Working with HAL, integration of the Mistral ATAM system on the Dhruv helicopter and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) has been very successfully completed. Key to many of MBDA’s offerings are their ability to be fitted on multiple platforms. By utilising the same weapon across different platforms, not only do extra aircraft benefit from these capabilities, but there are also major cost savings and operational benefits to be found in maintaining common equipment stockpiles, not to mention the training and logistics benefits. For example, utilisation of the Mistral missile on India’s helicopter platforms 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.