India's upgrade programmes for its key fighter aircraft MiG-29, Jaguars and Mirage-2000 are expected to be completed within a decade.
The three aircraft upgrades will be completed only by 2016, 2017 and 2021 respectively, sources told defencenow.com.
India had in July 2011 signed a $2.4-billion contract with French firms Thales and Dassault for the upgrade of 51 Mirage-2000 from three Indian Air Force (IAF) squadrons and another contract has been signed with Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for another $500 million for setting up an upgrade line at its facilities. Of the $2.4 billion to the two French firms, $1.9 billion alone will go to Thales alone.
Among the upgrades planned for Mirage-2000, inducted in to the IAF between 1982 and 1986, are a night vision goggle-compatible glass cockpit, advanced navigational systems, advanced Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, advanced multi-mode multi-layered radar, fully integrated electronic warfare suite and advanced beyond visual range (BVR) capability. The new weapons include 450 MICA interception and aerial combat missiles, for which a contract is awaited with another French firm MBDA.
Dassault and Tales will upgrade two of the planes in France while simultaneously two more planes will be upgrade in India with French help. The remaining 48 planes will be entirely upgraded by HAL.
In the case of the Jaguars, India is already in the process of upgrading its 100-odd planes in the IAF fleet under a 2008 contract signed with HAL for upgrading the deep penetration planes with modern avionics Display Attack Ranging Inertial Navigation (DARIN-3) by replacing the initial version of the system called DARIN-1. It is looking to sign a deal with the US for re-engining of Jaguar fleet whereby Jaguars will get Honeywell’s F125IN 43.8 kilo Newton (KN) thrust turbofan engine.
The cost of upgrade of Jaguar, inducted first in 1979, is Rs.3,113.02 crore (about $700 million) and the aircraft is expected to be upgraded by December 2017.
With regard to the 60-odd MiG-29 that IAF has in its three squadrons, the planes are going through the process of upgrade already in Russia with RAC-MiG. The cost of this upgrade works out to $964 million and it is expected to be completed by 2016.
The MiG-29s were first inducted into the IAF in mid-1980s. While the first six MiG-29s were upgraded in Russia, the rest are being retrofitted at the IAF base repair depot at Nashik.
The upgrade involves increased service life up to 40 years or 3,500 flight hours, apart from turning these air superiority combat planes into all-weather, competent multirole fighting machines that have beyond visual range capabilities.