India Finally Approves Mirage 2000 Upgrade

 - August 1, 2011, 5:00 AM
The Indian Air Force will upgrade 51 Mirage 2000Hs to a standard roughly equivalent to this French Air Force 2000-5. (Photo: Chris Pocock)

India confirmed that it will upgrade its 51 Mirage 2000H fighters, and entered final negotiations with Thales, which will act as prime contractor. The long-delayed deal has been controversial in India because of cost, and the 20- to 25-year age of most of the airframes. Thales would not comment on Indian media reports that the contract could be worth $2.4 billion. An additional $900 million will be spent on MBDA Mica missiles and $500 million more on new infrastructure, the reports added.

Thales told AIN that the upgrade includes the company’s RDY-3 multimode radar, as well as new navigation and electronic countermeasures systems. According to other reports, the upgrade also features a glass cockpit and a helmet-mounted display. A Dassault spokesman told AIN that the Indian Mirages would receive the company’s MPDU mission computer, which is also fitted to the Rafale.

The first two aircraft will be upgraded in France during a 44-month program that will qualify the aircraft for initial operations. The next two aircraft will be modified over 14 months by Dassault and Thales in partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) at Bangalore. HAL will be responsible for upgrading the subsequent aircraft.

The news prompted renewed speculation about India’s pending selection of a new combat aircraft to meet the MMRCA requirement. Outgoing Indian Air Force commander P.V. Naik told journalists in New Delhi that with the technical and offset evaluations completed, the commercial offers from Eurofighter and Team Rafale will soon be opened. The lowest bidder will be declared the winner, within the next five to six weeks, and there will be no political interference, he added.