India’s Bharat Dynamics has signed a licencing agreement with MBDA to establish a facility for the final assembly, integration, and test of advanced short-range air-to-air missile (ASRAAM) missiles in India. MBDA is the only European defence group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems that correspond to the full range of current and future operational needs of the three-armed forces (land, sea and air). MBDA has a significant presence in five European countries and in the US. Under the agreement, MBDA will transfer the equipment and knowledge to Bharat Dynamics for establishing the facility. The facility is expected to commence operations by 2022-23.
Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd) said the signing of the licensing agreement reinforces the company’s commitment to contribute towards ‘Make in India’ initiatives of the government in the defence sector. ASRAAM is one of the Within Visual Range missiles available and the company will be manufacturing these at its Bhanur Unit for the domestic and export in future through MBDA. He added that the new facility will provide India with the ability to carry out final assembly, integration and test of ASRAAM missiles. BDL has been endeavouring to enter into tie-up with foreign OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) in pursuit of its expansion program.
Bharat Dynamics (BDL) is the only company in India involved in manufacturing various types of missiles and underwater weapons for supply to the Indian Armed Forces and friendly foreign countries. The company also handles launchers, test equipment, refurbishment / life extension of missiles and counter measures systems for domestic as well as international market.
Following the news that Bharat Dynamics has signed the deal, Tushar M, a defence analyst at analytics firm GlobalData, said “with BDL having no prior experience in the production of short-range air-to-air missiles, the partnership with MBDA will be crucial for developing indigenous R&D and manufacturing ecosystem in the missile domain. Partnerships between Indian companies and global OEMs will play a pivotal role in achieving self-reliance and incremental enhancement of defence equipment manufacturing capability. The technological knowhow 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. Under the NGCCM project, DRDO intends to develop an advanced short-range infrared homing missile for the fifth-generation aircraft.
“The NGCCM is expected to replace the R-73 missile on the existing fourth and 4.5 generation aircraft in service with the IAF. The ASRAAMs will complement the aging Russian R-73 missiles in service with the IAF. Owing to its high countermeasures’ resistance and 90-degree off-boresight targeting & Lock-On After Launch (LOAL) capability, ASRAAM is expected to offer superior performance than the R-73 missile. The induction of ASRAAM will enhance the IAF’s air interdiction capability and provide a significant combat edge during future conflicts. The IAF plans to integrate ASRAAM on several key combat aircraft including Rafale, Mirage, Jaguar and Su-30MKI. In 2014, India signed a contract to procure 384 ASRAAMs. While the current inventory of 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. The standardisation of Close Combat Missile (CCM) across the fleet is expected to help the IAF reduce their weapon procurement and operations & maintenance (O&M) costs.”