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IAF may get ‘No Escape’ Meteor missiles in May

France weighing Indian request for early delivery of 10 Meteor air-to-air missiles that outrange and outclass AMRAAMs used by the Pakistan Air Force to target Indian jets the day after the Balakot airstrikes in February. The beyond-visual-range missiles, which will outgun all other air forces in the region, were to come by late 2020.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 05, 2019, 10.45 AM IST
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The beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile is considered to be the best in its class and can take out enemy aircraft at a range of much beyond 100 km, outranging the American origin AMRAAM being used by Pakistan.
NEW DELHI: France is considering a request for early delivery of Meteor air-to-air missiles that will give India the firepower to take on US supplied AMRAAMs used by the Pakistan Air Force to target its fighter jets the day after the Balakot airstrikes in February.

The beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles, which will outgun all other air forces in the region, were to come by late 2020 but an Indian request for at least 10 missiles in advance with the delivery of the first set of Rafale fighter jets is under consideration, said people aware of the matter.

The first four Rafale fighter jets are set to arrive in India by May 2020 after training of pilots and ground teams, besides extensive performance trials in France after the handing over ceremony in October this year. As per plans, these fighters were to be initially equipped with the Mica air-to-air missiles that are also operational on the Mirage 2000 fleet and supplemented later with the Meteor.

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The beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile is considered to be the best in its class and can take out enemy aircraft at a range of much beyond 100 km, outranging the American origin AMRAAM being used by Pakistan.

The Indian Air Force is also set to get an opportunity to engage its new Rafale jets with ace pilots of the French Air Force next year when a batch of Rafale fighters and A 400 M military transport aircraft head to India for a joint exercise. India has been keen to conduct a tri-services training exercise with France as well, but the air force war games have been scheduled for August 2020.

In line with enhanced bilateral cooperation with India, the French side has also proposed a visit by the IAF to the Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates, where French Air Force Rafale jets are on active operational duty. Stationed in support of Operation Chammal, the French Rafale jets have undertaken several missions in Iraq and Syria and the Indian side could get important feedback on the aircraft performance in high temperature environments.

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METEOR MISSILE: Beyond visual range air to air missile that is possibly the best in its class. Can take out enemy aircraft at range of over 100 km. Has a no escape zone of over 60 km and the missile easily outclasses the American origin AMRAAM currently in service with Pakistan.

As reported by ET, the Indian Rafale jets will also get the “game-changing” SCALP stand-off missiles that have a range of over 300 km and are designed to hit high value, strongly protected targets deep inside enemy territory. These missiles have been successfully used by French forces in Operational Chammal. Rafale jets can carry two of the missiles, making them capable of hitting almost any target in Pakistan.

This ‘stand-off ’ capability is becoming central to the Indian defence strategy, with the air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles being supplemented with the S-400 anti-air system being procured from Russia that will have the ability to take down airborne targets over the entire Pakistani airspace, if the need arises.
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