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July 30, 2011

Dassault, Thales to upgrade IAF’s Mirage planes

(The Financial Express ) : India on Friday signed a $2.4-billion deal with French companies Dassault and Thales to upgrade the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet of Mirage 2000-H fighter aircraft.
The deal is expected to cover upgrades to engines, avionics, navigation systems, mission computers, electronic warfare equipment and the Thales RDY-2 fire control radar. The work, which is to be jointly undertaken by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Dassault and Thales, will bring 51 aircraft to the Mirage 2000-5 standard. With the upgrade, a 20-year lifespan to the aircraft will be added, which were introduced between 1985 and 1989.
“Based on the integration of latest generation equipment and systems, the upgrade will further enhance the technical-operational capabilities of the IAF’s Mirage 2000,” said Thales officials.
The French companies will have to invest 30% of the worth of the deal back into the Indian defence sector as offsets. Under the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) offsets policy, foreign vendors bagging deals worth over Rs 300 crore have to invest at least 30% of the worth of the deal back into the Indian defence, civilian aerospace and homeland security sectors.
The deal had been hanging fire for the last five years as the defence ministry had been involved in extensive negotiations, including on the cost of the upgrade, with the French side. Under the pact, India will first send two of its aircraft to France for the upgrade and thereafter the rest would be upgraded at the HAL facilities.
“The extensive involvement of the Indian industry in the programme will consolidate existing ties with the French aerospace industry and will reinforce long-term cooperation based on cutting edge technologies,” they said.
The proposals for the upgrade were cleared at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security on July 13.

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