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MBDA to Invest in Indian Missile Development Unit

Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) has signed an agreement with MBDA to assemble, integrate, and test the Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) in India.

Under the agreement, MBDA will assist the state-owned Indian defense manufacturer in setting up a facility within its existing manufacturing complex in Bhanur, Telangana.

The facility will provide maintenance, repair, and overhaul of the missiles, adaptable to assembly, integration, and testing of the MBDA’s CAMM missile.

The CAMM is a short-range surface-to-air missile used for anti-aircraft and anti-missile response. The weapon is part of MBDA’s Sea Ceptor naval air defense system, which the European arms manufacturer has offered to India.

According to BDL, facility construction is “due to start immediately,” while operations will commence in 2022-23. MBDA will export the assembled missiles while supplying them for India’s domestic use. 

ASRAAM

ASRAAM is a within-visual-range, infrared homing missile that tracks targets by locking on to their heat signature. The 88 kg (194 pounds), 2.9-meter (9.51 feet) missile has a range of over 25 km (15.5 miles).

The missile has been integrated onto the Eurofighter Typhoon, Tornado, F/A-18, and F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft. Currently, the Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force use munition. India has also ordered them for its air force.

To Help Indian Missile Manufacture

Tushar M, a defense analyst at GlobalData, offered his opinion that the partnership between the two firms will help to further develop an indigenous missile manufacturing ecosystem in India.

“Partnerships between Indian companies and global OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) will play a pivotal role in achieving self-reliance and incremental enhancement of defense equipment manufacturing capability,” Tushar M. said.

“The technological know-how and manufacturing knowledge obtained from the ASRAAM project is anticipated to benefit the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Next-Generation Close Combat Missile (NGCCM) project,” he added.

Integration With Added IAF Aircraft

Under the NGCCM project, the DRDO, India’s premier state-owned defense research, and development firm, wants to develop an advanced short-range infrared homing missile for India’s fifth-generation aircraft.

India signed a £250 million ($343 million) contract with MBDA in 2014 to supply ASRAMs for the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet of SEPECAT Jaguar aircraft. Later, the IAF reportedly elicited interest in integrating the missiles onto its Su-30MKIs and the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

According to Tushar M, “the current inventory of [384] missiles may be sufficient for Rafale, Mirage and Jaguar aircraft; additional missiles may be required if the air force decides to equip its entire fleet of around 270 Su-30MKI with ASRAAMs.”

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