NEW DELHI — The upgrade of India’s Mirage 2000-H fleet could face a roadblock, after the maintenance warranty from original equipment manufacturers Dassault Aviation and Thales of France expired with nobody willing to continue footing the bill.
The two companies are demanding an annual maintenance fee of around $15 million from state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the prime contractor on the upgrade, to extend the tooling & test machinery and equipment warranty that expired last month. HAL is refusing to pay, instead asking Indian Air Force to make the payments; IAF argues however that the annual maintenance fee is part the upgrade contract with HAL.
HAL executives refused to comment officially on the subject, but a company source said the company is pursuing the issue with the service. HAL is currently undertaking upgradation of 47 Mirage fighters independently — an effort that kicked off in 2015. Seven aircraft have been delivered to the IAF thus far.
HAL is currently undertaking upgradation of 47 Mirage fighters independently, under a contract awarded in 2015. Seven aircraft have been delivered to the IAF under that deal. India signed $2.1 billion with Thales and Dassault Aviation in July 2011 for upgradation of 51 Mirage 2000H upgraded to Mirage 2000-5 version. Under this deal, four aircraft were upgraded. Two french companies are also supplying new sub-sustems that are being incorporated into modified Mirage 2000-H aircraft.
A separate $900 million agreement was also singed with HAL in 2011 to carryout upgradation of the 47 Mirage aircraft in India. Thales is the lead integrator for the upgrade program, whereas Dassault Aviation is the OEM and weapons support is provided by MBDA of France.
The upgrade program involves installation of new mission computers, pulse doppler radars, advanced navigation and electronic warfare systems, advanced communication systems and identification systems. In addition, cockpits of Mirage 2000-H are incorporated with two lateral displays, advanced head down display systems and glass cockpits.
The modification of electronic warfare units involves installation of new radar warning receiver, missile approach warning receivers, jammers to track multiple threats simultaneously, counter measure dispensing systems and escort jammers for jamming surveillance acquisition radars. The modified aircraft will also be equipped with digital video recorder; data transfer system and real time simulation management system.
The upgrade of Mirage fleet is aimed at enhancement of performance and incorporates new weapons, which will provide an expected increase in total technical life to 40 years from original 25 years. Another IAF official said the cost of upgrade does not include HAL’s man-hour costs to upgrade 47 aircraft, which it would undertake with technical assistance from the French suppliers.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.