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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is exploring options to extend the operational life of its Mirage-2000H fighter jets, including integrating the indigenously developed Astra MkI Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM). This move comes as the current standard BVRAAM, the 80km Mica-IR/RF, faces increasing obsolescence in the face of more advanced missiles in the region.

With plans to keep the Mirage-2000H operational until 2035, the IAF seeks to enhance its capabilities. Integrating the Astra MkI, boasting a range of 110km, would significantly improve the jet’s long-range air combat potential. Additionally, DRDO’s ongoing development of the Astra MkII with a 160km range presents further possibilities for future upgrades.

However, integrating the Astra MkI presents technical challenges. Unlike the Rafale jets, for which the IAF has already requested Astra integration from Dassault, the Mirage-2000H requires careful modification.

Meanwhile, Dassault has ruled out integrating the Meteor BVRAAM on the Mirage-2000, and the status of MBDA’s Mica-NG (Next Generation) missile compatibility remains unclear. The Mica-NG, offering twice the range of the current Mica, might be limited to the Rafale, leaving the Mirage with a potential capability gap.

However, overcoming technical hurdles and assessing alternative options like the Mica-NG remain crucial considerations. The final decision will significantly impact the Mirage-2000H’s role in the IAF’s future air defence strategy.

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