The Indian Air Force (IAF) has asked French military aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation to integrate indigenous weapons including the 'Astra' air-to-air missile on the Rafale combat aircraft.
The move is likely to be a big win for 'Make in India' in the defence sector and also open the global market for weapons made in the country.
The Rafale is used by many countries including India, France, Egypt, Qatar and many others along with Greece, Croatia, UAE and Indonesia who have placed orders for these fighter aircrafts.
Defence officials were quoted by ANI as saying, "In a step that could be a big success for 'Make in India' in defence and also open the global market for desi weapons, the Indian Air Force has asked French firm, Dassault Aviation, to integrate indigenous weapons like 'Astra air' to air missile on the Rafale combat aircraft."
Apart from these DRDO-developed missiles and bombs, the IAF is also planning to integrate several indigenous designed weapons by private sector companies including long-rang glide bombs with the aircraft soon, said the officials.
Sources from the industry were also quoted by the news agency as mentioning that in view of the capability and the pricing of the Indian weapon systems, there could be a big market for them once they are integrated into the Rafale.
It may be noted that the Indian weapon systems are already integrated into the Su-30 MKI combat aircraft along with the indigenously developed LCA Tejas.
India now owns and operates 36 Rafale fighter jets and has also expressed intent to purchase another 26 marine aircraft to be used by the Navy.
It has come to the fore that the Indian Air Force top brass has been pushing for indigenous answers to their war-fighting requirements so as to be self-reliant especially during the time of conflict.
A lot of weapon systems acquired by the force during the ongoing standoff with China have also been put on the indigenisation path.
The Astra air-to-air missiles are capable of striking targets up to the 100 Km range but very soon this will be extended to 160 KMs in the Astra Mark 2 while the further upgraded version would be one with a strike range of 300 kilometers.
The SAAW can also hit targets at 100 Km plus range and its advanced versions are also being developed.
"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.