Sunday, December 12, 2010

High cost of Indian Mirage 2000 fighter upgrade causing a rethink

French President Nicholas Sarkozy may miss signing of the Mirage 2000 upgrade deal with the Indian Air Force (IAF) during his visit to India. While officially, “negotiations are still going on”, according India’s senior foreign ministry officials, the reason for the delay seems to be that the high cost of upgrading the fighters is causing a rethink, informed sources told

The cost of upgrading the 51 fighters is working out to an average of Euro 45 million per piece which is well over the price of acquiring a new generation fighter such as the Rafale or F-16 which is around Euro 30million-35 million. India is seeking to upgrade the fighters with Beyond Visual Range (BVR) capabilities, Look-down, shoot-down capabilities, Advanced Electronic Counter Counter Measures (ECCM) and Multi-target, multi-shoot capabilities.

The total cost is around Euro 2.4 billion of which work worth Euro 1.5 billon will be directly with the French company Dassault and the rest for work done and equipment supplied by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

In comparison, India signed a similar upgrade contract for 62 MiG-29 fighters in 2008 for around $850 million which works to $13.71 million (Euro 10.28 million approximately) per fighter.

Further, the bulk of the IAF Mirage 2000 fleet was acquired in 1986-87 which makes it over 20 year old. The upgradation process is expected to take 7-9 year and residual life of the airframe after the upgrade will be about 15-10 years. A new fighter instead will have a life of 30 plus years.

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