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SOURCE:  MAHESHA M / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

European missile developer MBDA has announced that it will develop the next generation of the MICA air-to-air missile for the French Air Force and French Navy and the missile system will also be passed on to its export customer of the Dassault Rafale and Dassault Mirage-2000 fighter jets operators in near future when it will be ready in 2026.

MICA NG will be replacing legacy MICA missiles which were developed from the ’80s and ’90s and are main Air-to-Air missile system on both Dassault Rafale and Dassault Mirage-2000 fighter jets operated by the Indian Air Force. MICA NG will be developed in both IR and RF versions and will retain the legacy dual-role capability but will also feature a new infrared seeker with an active electronically scanned array.

The MICA NG is intended to replace the legacy MICA missile, which is expected to be withdrawn from service between 2018 and 2030. Deliveries of the first batch of new missiles for the French Air Force and Navy are expected to occur between 2026 and 2031.MICA is being delivered for the IAF’s Mirage 2000 upgrade and Rafale and is the only missile in the world featuring two inter-operable seekers (active radar and imaging infrared) to cover the spectrum from close-in dogfight to long beyond visual range.

MICA NG will feature new dual pulse motor which will improve range further and will also be equipped with next-generation electronic countermeasures to block jammers and also be equipped with better Data-link with the host aircraft for effective Kills.

IAF has selected MBDA developed ASRAAM under New Generation Close Combat Missile program for the IAF’s upgraded Jaguar fleet, and have not decided to upgrade them with the whole fleet of other IAF platforms. ASRAAM gives it a high kinematic capability that delivers superior end-game performance and has within visual range air combat of 25km.

Third Air-to-Air Missile from MBDA will be ramjet-powered and network-enabled METEOR beyond visual range air-to-air missile which is recognized as a game-changer for air combat due to its throttle-able ramjet engine, active radar seeker and data-link that combine to provide unmatched end-game speed and maneuverability 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 will be coming with Dassault Rafale fighter jet, even though it has been denied for integration into other fighter jets like Russian developed Su-30MKI and Tejas Mk1A due to Non-European Radars onboard this aircraft, IAF is still very much keen to integrate into MWF-AF Tejas Mk2 fighter jets equipped with UTTAM AESA Radar when it is ready for production in 2026-28 and with MICA NG and ASRAAM along with ASTRA and ASTRA IR versions on offer by 2026, IAF will be spoiled for choices in terms of integration of Next Generation Air-to-Air missiles for its MWF-AF Tejas Mk2 fighter jets which will be replacing the whole fleet of Mig-29UPG and Mirage-2000H from the Air force fleet .

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