MBDA Looks to India for joint development of New Air Defense Missile.
MBDA is hopeful that talks with the Indian authorities will yield a contract for joint development of a new short range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) with the DRDO procurement office, CEO Antoine Bouvier said Feb.12 at the Aero India show.
"Our discussions are making good progress to maturity," Bouvier. "We are still waiting - expecting - a final decision from the customer."
The European company is holding talks with the Indian Ministry of Defence, DRDO procurement office and MBDA's local industrial partner, Bharat Dynamics Ltd.
Bouvier welcomed remarks made the previous day by the French junior minister for defense and veteran affairs Jean-Marie Bockel pledging support for technology transfers to help companies win foreign business.
"It's very important to have the French government's blessing because there is very significant technology transfer in this program," Bouvier said.
If a deal goes ahead, MBDA would co-develop "the new missile and launcher, using technology and capabilities of the European company and DRDO," he said. BDL would be prime contractor and produce and integrate the weapon system. The choice of radar would be an Indian one, he said. The missile would have range of beyond 15 kilometers.
With development funds for new arms programs virtually non-existent in Europe, an Indian contract would mark an important source of fresh financing for MBDA and a step toward an internationalization, which reduces dependence on cash-strapped home markets.
Some of the development on the Indian missile could help feed MDBA's technology base in Europe.
MBDA is involved in the modernization of the Indian Mirage 2000 fleet, which will upgrade the fighter's capabilities to fire the infrared and electromagnetic versions of the Mica air-to-air missile. There were no plans for a ground strike capability, he said.
As part of the upgrade of the Jaguar, the light strike aircraft would be capable of firing the ASRAAM short range air to air missile.
MBDA signed an agreement in December with MDL which transfers production of the Milan anti-tank missile to India. The deal allows MDL to meet Indian demand, but there are discussions on exports of the Indian Milan, Bouvier said. MBDA has worked with MDL for 30 years under a licensed production deal.
MBDA is also supporting the three European fighters - Eurofighter, Gripen and Rafale - entered for India's combat aircraft competition, he said.
The French government is pushing domestic companies to focus on foreign markets to offset flat spending, which effectively cuts funding because of higher inflation in defense costs.