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By Bulbul Singh

28 Mar 07. The Indian Air Force has mooted a new modernization plan under which $3bn worth of new generation air-to-air missiles, air defense systems and precision guided munition will be procured from overseas market in the next two years.

A senior Indian Air Force official said, all the force-multiplier aircraft including the Mirage 2000H, Sukhoi 30 MKI, Jaguar, MiG 29, and MiG 27 aircraft will be equipped with advanced air-to-air missiles, including BVR missiles. As the Indian Air Force was unable to spend the funds allocated for procurement of 12 used Mirage 2000-5 aircraft from Qatar during the last financial year and the delay in floating of the global tender for acquisition of 126 Medium Range Multirole Combat Aircraft additional funds are now being diverted towards the acquisition of the advanced missiles.

In the next three months the Indian Air Force will float three separate tenders, especially for equipping its force multiplier fleet with advanced air-to-air missiles which has a range of over 120 kilometers. A global tender is likely to be floated in the next two months inviting companies including Raytheon of United States, Rafael of Israel, MBDA of France and Rosoboronoexport of Russia for purchase of hundreds of medium range air-to-air missiles.

A separate global tender is also likely to be floated for procurement of Beyond Visual Range missiles which would be mounted on select aircraft like the Mirage 2000H, and Sukhoi 30 MKI. A senior Indian defence ministry official said, they have received a detailed license production proposal from both Rafael of Israel and MBDA of France for license production of both air to air and BVR missiles at state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited based in Hyderabad which is India’s sole missile manufacturer. The defence ministry official added that Indian Air Force needs large numbers of air-to-air and BVR missiles for its defence preparedness and now the defence ministry is considering absorb the technology transfer of these new generation missiles from overseas companies and for the first time the technology transfer would be now be treated as offset for production of air to air missiles in the country.

The defence ministry official further added that presently India does not possess any capability in both development and production of any type of air-to-air missile. However, India’s state-owned defence research agency, Defence Research and Development Organization, DRDO is developing a 100 kilometers BVR missile called Astra since 2003 and is now attempting to seek technical help from MBDA of France to make this program successful.

Another global tender would be floated within the next few months for the procurement of medium-range anti-ship missiles. A tender was floated in October 2006 for procurement of anti ship missiles but only Boeing of United States was short listed against MBDA of France, Rafel of Israel, Russia’s Rosoboronexport, and U.S. firms Boeing and Raytheon of United States which has resulted in a single vendor situation, and the Indian defence ministry discourages single vendor situations as part of policy. A re-tender will be issued with modifications in the technical qualifications so that more that more then one vendor could emerge as competitor. The procurement plan includes the procurement of Pythhon-4 air to air missile, and the Derby radar guided air-to-air missile from Israel.

An Indian Air Force official said the Derby, and the Python missiles will have the capability to engage enemy aircraft, UAVs and helicopters.

Last year the Indian Air Force contracted a $400m deal with Israelfor buying 18 Spyder quick-reaction air defence missile systems. The Spyder system will be used to provide air defence for fixed assets like airbases, nuclear installations, VVIP buildings and point and area defence for mobile f

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