Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Delhi: Even as it supports a French bid for an Indian Air Force tender for 126 combat jets, European aerospace major Thales is awaiting the IAF's final nod for upgrading its fleet of Mirage-2000 fighter bombers to enhance their strike capabilities and extend their operational life by at least 20 years.
"We have several significant priorities for India. In the short term the retrofit of the Mirage-2000 aircraft is clearly a strong request and we are working hard on it - Thales is leading this important programme along with its French and Indian industrial partners," Pierre-Yves Chaltiel, Thales' head of solutions for governments sector, told IANS.
"In the mid-term, we are also strongly supporting the Rafale aircraft along with Dassault and Snecma in the bid for India's MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) programme (for the 126 jets)," he added.
Chaltiel is in India for the Aero India-2009 international military air show at Bangalore Feb 11-15, during which Thales will be showcasing its capabilities in the spheres of military aviation, civil aviation, aviation services and security, air traffic management and defence.
Pointing out that the technical and programme issues relating to the Mirage-2000 upgrade "have been discussed and agreed (to)", Chaltiel said: "We have put everything in place with all our Indian industrial partners, through the transfer of knowledge and technology, for the Indian industry to be in full capacity during the execution phases of the programme."
While Thales was reluctant to state figures given a confidentiality clause, the project is believed to be worth $1.5 billion for upgrading the 51 Mirage-2000s in the IAF fleet to Dash-5 levels. This will give the jets multi-role capability with longer-range radars and fire-and-forget missiles, enabling less aircraft to perform a given mission thanks to greater fuel and weapon-delivery capacities.
09/02/09 IANS/Silicon India

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