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Delays continue for India’s Mirage, Jaguar upgrades

Programmes to upgrade two key Indian air force types, the Dassault Mirage 2000H and Sepecat Jaguar, continue to be delayed.

The Mirage 2000H upgrade is still being negotiated between the Indian government and Dassault, the air force said. Worth an estimated $2.2 billion, the programme has been pending since India announced its intention to modernise the aircraft in 2004.

A contract is expected to cover upgrades to engines, avionics, navigation systems, mission computers, electronic warfare systems and radars. To be undertaken by Dassault and Thales, the work will bring India's 51 aircraft to the Mirage 2000-9 standard. The service hopes to add 20 years of life to the aircraft, which were introduced between 1985 and 1989.

Indian media frequently attribute the long delays to the deal's cost, which would work out to roughly $41 million per aircraft. The deal was largely expected to be signed during visits by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to India in 2008 and 2010, but neither trip produced an agreement.

Unsurprisingly, the air force is reluctant about giving a ballpark date for the deal's conclusion.

Separately, the air force confirms that a request for proposals to re-engine its Hindustan Aeronautics-produced Jaguar ground-attack aircraft has been formally withdrawn. The document was issued to Honeywell and Rolls-Royce in November 2010, calling for a new engine design. The latter withdrew its bid in February, creating a single bidder situation that is not permissible under Indian procurement policy.

India's Jaguars are now powered by R-R/Turbomeca Adour 811s. The UK company had proposed upgrading these to the Adour 821 standard. The other alternative was Honeywell's F125, which is used on Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation-built F-CK-1 indigenous defence fighter. Honeywell told the Indian air force that the F125 has the extra thrust needed to cope with HAL's upgrades and to increase the aircraft's strike capability.

The air force has yet to announce a new RFP for the Jaguar upgrade.

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