Russian Missiles for India’s Rafales?

 - September 13, 2013, 2:10 PM
A Rafale carrying short- and long-range versions of the MBDA Mica air-to-air missile. According to Russia’s Tactical Missile Corporation, India is interested in adding Russian missiles to the French warplane’s weapons suite. (Photo: Dassault Aviation)

Russia’s Tactical Missile Corporation is negotiating with Dassault Aviation for the possible use of its missiles on the Rafale combat jets that have been selected by the Indian Air Force (IAF). The corporation, whose Russian acronym is TRV, told journalists attending last week’s Maks airshow in Moscow that the Indian air force has large stocks of Russian air-launched weapons, which drives its interest in adapting them to the French warplane. Although the Rafale was named as the winner of India’s MMRCA competition in January 2012, a firm contract has still not been signed.

Dassault did not respond to AIN’s request for comment.

In the RFP for the MMRCA, India stipulated that the first 18 aircraft be delivered with a full complement of integrated weapons. The Rafales would presumably therefore be delivered with MBDA missiles such as the Mica AAM, Scalp ASM and Exocet AshM. But the RFP also required vendors to “integrate additional weapons of the IAF’s choice, as required.”

It seems likely that the IAF and TRV are looking at future upgrades to the Rafale. But the matter could be one more complication that is preventing a conclusion of the Indian Rafale deal. The other complications have included the allocation of responsibility and liability between Dassault and Team Rafale partners such as MBDA, Thales and Sagem and Indian industrial partner companies, including the role to be played by government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd; and the precise terms of the production licenses to be granted to India. Dassault CEO Eric Trappier described the negotiations as “an uphill task” last June, but nevertheless predicted a successful conclusion by the end of this year.

There are several previous instances of Russian weapons being adapted to French warplanes. For example, Mirage F1EQ fighters of the Iraqi air force carried Kh-29L and other air-ground smart munitions, and South African Air Force Mirage F1s carried R-73E short range air-to-air missiles.