French President Nicholas Sarkozy may miss signing of the Mirage 2000upgrade deal with the Indian Air Force (IAF) during his visit to India.While officially, “negotiations are still going on”, according India’ssenior foreign ministry officials, the reason for the delay seems to bethat the high cost of upgrading the fighters is causing a rethink.
The costof upgrading the 51 fighters is working out to an average of Euro 45million per piece which is well over the price of acquiring a newgeneration fighter such as the Rafale or F-16 which is around Euro30million-35 million. India is seeking to upgrade the fighters withBeyond Visual Range (BVR) capabilities, Look-down, shoot-downcapabilities, Advanced Electronic Counter Counter Measures (ECCM) andMulti-target, multi-shoot capabilities.
The total cost isaround Euro 2.4 billion of which work worth Euro 1.5 billon will bedirectly with the French company Dassault and the rest for work doneand equipment supplied by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Incomparison, India signed a similar upgrade contract for 62 MiG-29fighters 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 whichmakes it over 20 year old. The upgradation process is expected to take7-9 year and residual life of the airframe after the upgrade will beabout 15-10 years. A new fighter instead will have a life of 30 plusyears.