July 17, 2007

Thales offers to upgrade IAF Mirage 2000s

17 July 2007

Thales is willing to supply electronic combat subsystems and upgrade products for the Indian Air Force's Mirage 2000s, for which the request for proposals (RFP) — originally expected last year — may now be released within the next month. The Mirage 2000, which was to be upgraded to the Mirage 2000-5, now will incorporate features specified by India, and dubbed the M2000 H/TH. India's squadron strength is now reduced to 30.

The upgrade is centred around mission data coupled with multi-mode radars and six MICA missiles. "India wants a lightening pod, not the Damocles multifunction and laser designation pod supplied with the Rafale," Thales spokesperson Jean-Luc Queval said. The company is finalising a memorandum of understanding with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), India's largest government defense manufacturer.

India is also considering inviting competitors for the retrofit bid, but a government official acknowledged that it could be taking a risk of not going with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Unlike recent deals signed with Russia for 40 Su-30MKIs and 80 Mi-17 medium-lift helicopters, in which the offset clause was not invoked and the orders treated as part of earlier deals, Thales is treating the retrofit as a fresh order and says it is committed to 30 per cent offsets. Meanwhile, Thales is also upgrading Mirage 2000s to the 2000-5 configuration for Greece and to Mirage 2000-9 for the United Arab Emirates.

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