Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rafael Moves On Seekers, Looks At Future Systems

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report Feb 18 , 2010 , p. 06
Neelam Mathews

NEW DELHI — Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is in negotiations with Indian public sector company Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) concerning a joint venture program to produce advanced imaging infrared seekers for the Python 5 missile.

“The ultimate solution is forming joint ventures,” Rafael Chairman Ilan Biran says.

The joint venture with BEL may take a few months, as Rafael has requested that the Indian government increase the Foreign Direct Investment limit from 26 percent to 49 percent. Other issues to be determined include the scope of the project and its market assessment. However, investment is not an issue, BEL Chairman Ashwani Kumar Datt told Aerospace DAILY this week at the land and naval systems DefExpo here.

India has ordered 18 Spyder systems that use advanced air-to-air missiles as ground-launched surface-to-air missiles. Besides the Python 5, it has the Derby beyond-visual-range missile, which has an active seeker.

Spyder will possibly replace Russian-made OSA-AKM and ZRK-BD Strela-10M/ SAM systems. The deliveries are to start in 2011, a senior official said. It is likely the seekers could be exported for use in missiles on Israel’s frigates.

While many elements will be manufactured in India, the missile will be sent to Israel for integration. While the launcher of the first lot also will be sent to Israel, the rest of the installation will take place in India.

Rafael is expecting to include India in its Spike missile “club,” Biran says. India also has shown interest in the “shoot and forget” Spike non-line-of-sight (NLOS), the ultra long-range version of the standard Spike missile that can also be fired from helicopters. Biran is quick to reiterate that “every country in Europe prefers to use the Spike. Javelin is short range. Besides, I’m not sure [the U.S.] will let you produce it here.”

“I am more than sure we are better,” Biran asserts. Spike NLOS can make immediate battle assessment for the extended range of 25 kilometers, he says.

Rafael also is offering air-to-air capability products and network communication systems for the Rafale and Gripen fighters in their bids for India’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program. “We have strategic cooperation and capabilities,” Biran says. “France also has its own capabilities. The fact you can produce it here [in India] with cooperation … [will help offsets]. However, I wouldn’t like to interfere with customer’s decisions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Israel exhibited the Stunner anti-missile system, a collaboration between Raytheon and Rafael aimed at countering ballistic missiles. The Mach 5 missile is “the best program we have ever done,” Biran says. The system also can rely on the Green Pine missile warning radar or Rafael’s new multimission radar.

Rafael also is proposing the Iron Dome in response to a request for information from India’s Very Short Range Air Defense systems (VSHORAD) program.

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