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An MoU was signed last year between India’s state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and French Dassault Aviation Ltd to integrate Indian-made weapons systems on the Rafale fighter jet. However, idrw has learned that there has been little progress in integrating the Indian-made Astra Beyond Visual range air-to-air missiles into the Indian Rafale fleet.

The negotiation for Indian-specific enhancement of the weapons system will require Dassault’s participation is yet to begin, as they hold the software ‘source codes’ of the AESA Radar necessary for the Indian missile to work with the French radar. Dassault needs to be subcontracted to work on the program that will enable Rafale to operate Indian-made weapons systems like Astra and SAAW.

While the Rafale is equipped with the Meteor Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile, the MICA air-to-air missiles are outdated and do not offer the same level of range and performance as the Indian-made Astra. MBDA is working on the Mica NG, which has a higher range and will replace the MICA medium-range missile, but it is not expected to be available before 2026.

According to sources familiar with the matter, idrw has learned that requests to equip the Mirage-2000, Su-30MKI, and Tejas Mk1A with the Meteor missile were turned down. The Su-30MKI was declined due to its respective origins, while the Tejas Mk1A was rejected due to its Israeli radar.

As a result, India plans to equip the Meteor missile on the Tejas Mk2, with plans to later equip the Tejas Mk1A with Indian radar. However, the Rafale requires a better secondary Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile that can complement the Meteor, which is why the Astra was selected. Unfortunately, there are likely to be delays in its implementation.

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