In 2018, India’s plans to equip its Russian SU-30MKI and indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas with long-range Meteor beyond visual range missiles after MBDA France informed the government that they would not integrate their weapon on any Israeli or Russian platform and even refused it to be integrated into a legacy platform like Mirage-2000 due to high cost.

While it looked like a unilateral decision by France imposed on other key partners in MBDA like the United Kingdom, India might have recently tasted some success in breaking this blockade when MBDA UK agreed to sell and integrate Meteor BVRAAMs on the upgraded Mirage-2000 fleet of Indian Air Force, which looks like a major disagreement with the MBDA France which was trying to make Meteor BVRAAMs, Dassault Rafale Exclusive to secure their chances for further orders of the same platform from India.

MBDA France had told Indian Air Force that they would not integrate the Meteor missile on either Russian platforms or with the Israeli equipment which can create issues thus ruling out it from Sukhoi 30 and Tejas Mk1A fleet which might be further extended to future IAF fleet of MWF-AF, ORCA and even AMCA fighter jets since they will not use any European radar which MBDA UK believes could kill sale of Meteor missile in large numbers to India.

MBDA France condition of European Radar is already falling apart since both UK and Italian Air Forces have decided to arm Meteor missile on Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II which comes equipped with AN/APG-81 AESA) radar system designed by Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems.

While India is developing Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) aka Astra Mk2 jointly with Russia which has Ramjet propulsion and has operational performance matching close to Meteor missile but the missile is far from being ready to be deployed from any fighter jet and still going through phase-1 developmental trials from the ground launch stations and probably will take close to a decade before all developmental trials are completed and it is ready to enter production.

Sensing a business opportunity here, has been informed that, MBDA UK has offered to jointly develop a Meteor derived missile with Indian technology created for Astra MkI and MkII in a very short period which can be jointly locally manufactured for the whole fleet of IAF fighter fleet if accepted by India.

India already has replaced Russian Agat 9B1103M active radar seeker borrowed from RVV-AE (R-77) BVRAAM used on the Astra missile with an Indian Ku-band seeker developed by the DRDO and reportedly has been working on an enhanced version of the seeker for the MkII program for a quick turn around program, MBDA UK might have offered Meteor derived missile with Indian Ku-band seeker on similar lines it offered to integrate AESA radar seeker from AAM-4B BVRAAM into new Meteor derived missile called as Joint New Air-to-Air Missile (JNAAM) which MBDA UK is developing with Japan for its F-35 fleet.


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