Cabinet to take up Mirage upgrade deal this week

IANS

The $2.4-billion deal with France for upgrade of India’s Mirage-2000 combat planes is all set to come up for discussion at the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) next week with the defence ministry preparing a note in this regard.

‘The Mirage-2000 upgrade deal is coming up in the CCS meeting next week. The CCS note for the upgrade programme has been prepared and sent,’ a senior defence ministry official told IANS Saturday.

The move comes even as India’s defence ministry and air force top brass seem to be split over the high costs and likely benefits to the country’s future air power needs.

Among points of contention is the deal cost to upgrade the 52 Mirage-2000 combat aircraft by French company Dassault Aviation.

Taking into account $1 billion for new weapons and another $500 million for new facilities at Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the upgrade, the cost could rise to $3.9 billion, the officials said.

The cost of the upgrade may work out to $7.9 million per aircraft, which, the opponents of the deal contend, is the same as that of a new fighter jet that India is buying under the $10.4 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft tender.

Those supporting the deal argue that once upgraded, these aircraft will be as potent as a new combat plane.

Among the upgrades planned for Mirage-2000 under the contract include night vision goggle compatible glass cockpit, advanced navigational systems, advanced Identify Friend or Foe (IFF) system, advanced multi-mode multi-layered radar, fully integrated electronic warfare suite and advanced beyond visual range (BVR) capability. The new weapons include 450 MICA interception and aerial combat missiles.

French firms Thales and MBDA will be the weapons systems integrator and missiles supplier respectively.

Two of the planes will be upgraded in France, another two in India with French help, and the rest 48 entirely by the HAL. But Dassault will take nine years to complete the upgrade of the whole fleet of Mirages.

India bought 52 Mirage-2000s in 1982 and fully inducted these into the IAF in 1986.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Jul 10 2011. Filed under All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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