IAF to soon decide on bidder for Mirage upgrade


The Indian Air Force (IAF) will soon select the lowest bidder for upgrading its Mirage-2000 combat jet fleet as part of its modernisation programme, the air chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, said Wednesday.

“The cabinet committee on security (CCS) will decide on the Mirage fleet upgradation within a fortnight after the raksha mantri (Defence Minister A.K. Antony) approves it. Then, we will open the commercial bids and select the lowest bidder,” Naik told reporters on the margins of an air force conference here.

The IAF, which has 51 of the fourth generation fighters from the French Dassault Aviation, decided in 2010 to upgrade them into Mirage 2000-5 with improved avionics and higher capability to carry laser-guided weapons.

Estimated to cost about $2.4 billion, the retrofit deal is intended to extend the lifespan of the 25-year-old multi-role fighters by another 20 years.

Used extensively during the 1999 Kargil war for air defence and ground attacks, the three-squadron Mirage fleet is based at the IAF’s Gwalior air base in Madhya Pradesh.

The selected bidder will upgrade six aircraft in France and the remaining will be upgraded by state-run defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) with transfer of technology by Dassault and Thales.

Referring to the $4.1-billion deal signed Tuesday for acquiring 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, Naik said they would be able to carry twice the load of the IAF’s exisitng IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft.

Naik also disclosed that the three Israeli-made Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) mounted on IL-78 aircrft were performing well and were being used in single and joint exercises.

“All the three surveillance aircraft are in use and performing better than our expectations. They are being extensively used in our exercises,” Naik added.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Jun 16 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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