After moving ahead with similar projects with Russia and Israel, India is set to finalise a missile co-development project with France to manufacture a new range of Short Range Surface to Air Missiles (SRSAM) for the armed forces. The joint project, which will involve the DRDO and French missile manufacturer MBDA, is likely to be finalised within the next few months.
While India and France initiated the project in 2007 — it is mentioned in the joint statement on defence cooperation between the countries — the project has taken more than three years to finalise. Sources say that the final terms of the agreement are in the process of being finalised. The next generation air defence missile, which will be inducted by the Army, Navy and Air Force, could also be made available for export.
The joint development is likely to take the course of the Indo-Russian Brahmos supersonic cruise missile project that has already borne fruit for the DRDO. India has also recently signed a deal with Israel to co develop a long range surface to air missile to protect its warships and vital assets on the ground.
The Indo-French missile, which has tentatively been named ‘Maitri’, will replace the ageing arsenal of Russian missiles that are currently being used by the armed forces to protect airfield and other vital installations. Sources said that the project could be signed as early as August this year to kick start the manufacturing of the missile.
Over the past three years, MBDA and DRDO have finalised the design and performance parameters of the missile to suit the needs of the armed forces. Besides providing the armed forces with a modern air defence missiles, the project will also add a new capability with France that presently does not have a similar missile in production.
India and France are also close to signing an estimated $ 2.2 bn deal to modernise the fleet of Mirage 2000 fighters.
BY: The Indian Express Limited.