IAF wants to integrate SAAW and Astra weapon systems into Rafale jets

Move expected to be a boost for Make in India and spur global sale of Indian weaponry

Rafale jets Representational image

The Indian Air Force has sought to integrate indigenous weapons like Astra air-to-air missile with the Rafale fighter jets, which were procured from the French aerospace company, Dassault Aviation. This could be a boost for the country’s Make in India initiative and help with the global sale of indigenous weapons.

Besides India and France, the Rafale is used by countries such as Egypt and Qatar while others like Greece, Croatia, UAE and Indonesia have struck deals to procure the combat aircraft.

“The IAF has asked the original equipment manufacturer Dassault Aviation to integrate Indian-made weapons like the Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW) and the Astra air-to-air missile with the Rafale which has been in service with the IAF since 2020,” ANI quoted defence officials as saying.

They added that besides these DRDO-developed weapons, the IAF also hopes to integrate indigenously designed weapons by private sector firms with the Rafale soon. "The private sector companies have also developed missiles and bombs which can hit targets from long ranges and can be equipped on the Rafale," the officials said.

Sources quoted by the news agency claimed the integration of desi weapon systems with the aircraft could provide a wide market for Indian weapons, which are already integrated into the Russian-made Su-30 MKI and the indigenous LCA Tejas.

IAF operates 36 Rafale jets and the Indian Navy is hoping to purchase 26 Rafale-M, the naval variant of the jet, for deployment on the indigenously built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant. As per reports, the deal will be sealed once the techno-commercial negotiations are concluded. 

Rafale earlier said the deal confirms the "exceptional quality of the link between Dassault Aviation and the Indian forces and the importance of the strategic relationship between India and France," according to PTI.

Dassault Aviation added that the decision came after a "successful trial campaign held in India, during which the Navy Rafale demonstrated that it fully met the Indian Navy's operational requirements and was perfectly suited to the specificities of its aircraft carrier".

– With inputs from agencies


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