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SOURCE: MANJUNATH REDDY/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

A Recent report prepared by India Today Group said that European manufacturers have informed India that they no longer can offer long-range Meteor beyond visual range missiles for Integration on Russian Supplied SU-30MKI fighter jet and also on India’s very own indigenously developed Tejas MK-1A fighter jets.

MBDA which makes Meteor beyond visual range missiles is yet to comment on the report but Defence Analysts think they might have been some political interference in the possible sale of the missile system to India and likely culprit could be France which is one of the closest strategic defense partners of India.

MBDA officials in the past have openly offered India Meteor beyond visual range missiles for integration on India’s frontline fighter jets like Su-30s and LCA-Tejas and sudden change in their position clearly hints at a Political pressure from a European Country which has a stake in the company.

MBDA is a European developer and manufacturer of missiles which is headquartered in Paris and was formed by a merger of French Aérospatiale-Matra Missiles, Italian Alenia Marconi Systems, and British Matra BAe Dynamics in December 2001 and 37.5 percent of the company is still French-owned which has a legal obligation to its Government.

In Past French supplied Avionics and sub-systems were integrated and still used on India’s Su-30 fleet and also on Tejas MK-1 aircrafts sudden moves to block the sale of missile system to India doesn’t make sense unless larger political motives might be the actual reasons.

Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine after the 2014 ouster of a pro-Russian president in Kiev plunged relations between the EU and Russia into the deep freeze. European Union imposed damaging sanctions on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis and recently France objected to Italy’s move for a review of the EU sanctions on Russia after recent Government Change in Rome.

France has never been a vocal critic of India’s continuous purchase of Russian military equipment by India over Ukraine crisis but any possible sale of the weapon system with french component to be integrated into a Russian platform will be heavily criticised back home and even in European Political circles due to its Paris’s continued support for the continuation of the sanctions on Russia.

Coming to the Second fighter which also has been blocked is kind of a mystery because LCA-Tejas MK-1A is India’s locally developed combat jet and as per report objection was not MK-1A but it was Israeli supplied Elta EL/M-2052 Active Electronic Scan Array Airborne Fire Control Radar which has been selected by India to be used on the upgraded MK-1A Combat jet .

French multinational company Thales Group had developed an active array radar that meets the specific needs of HAL, to equip the 80 TEJAS Mk1A multirole LCA operated by the Indian Air Force and a modified RBE2 radar installed on Rafale was successfully demonstrated last year at the Cazaux air base in France, Yet it lost out to Elta’s EL/M-2052 Fire Control Radar due to unclear reasons.

Is it French attempts to get a backdoor entry for the Thales Group into India’s TEJAS Mk1A Project ? or is it due to the uneasy relationship Paris shares with Jerusalem on Palestine issues? , well we may never know at this point in time but they are clear hints that it’s not over yet for India and further talks will be held to reach a mutually agreeable situation.

Indian Air Force will still get Meteor beyond visual range missiles equipped with 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jet it has ordered from France and it is likely that Meteor Missiles will go on to see integration on both Sukhoi-30 and Mk1A in future with or without the support of Original Equipment Manufacture (MBDA ) in the integration work.

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