India is one of the largest arms importers in the world. India has continued to import several advanced weapons systems from Russia, United States and European nations. In 2019, India received its first Rafale fighter. The Dassault Rafale comes with a wide range of advanced weapons such as the Meteor Air-to-air missile, etc. The Meteor Missile gives the Indian Rafale a very high degree of technological advantage over its neighbours, China and Pakistan. India also wanted to equip the Meteor Missile on its Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, but now there is a new situation, the MBDA Meteor Missile cannot be integrated with the LCA Tejas fighter made by India.
The LCA Tejas have been currently produced in small number of batches. The official mass production variant type is yet to be produced: LCA-MK1A This model will be much more advanced than the previous variants of Tejas. A large number of improvements have been made in this variant, especially in the avionics systems, the aircraft is equipped with EL/M-2052 and Uttam AESA radar, self-protection jammer, radar warning receiver, as well as also being able to mount an external ECM pod. The EL/M-2052-Band airborne active electronically scanned array fire control radar is designed and produced by Israel. The radar is designed for air superiority and advanced strike missions. It has the range of 200 km for surface and sea targets and 300 km for aerial targets.
While making improvements in the aircraft avionics systems, india also planned to improve the current weapon systems of the aircraft. India planned to equip the MK1A with advanced air-to-air missiles such as the European Meteor. India has a strong interest in this advanced weapon. India hoped to integrate this missile on the LCA fighters, but now there is a big problem.
India has already introduced Meteor Missiles on the Dassault Rafale Multirole fighter, but why this missile cannot be used on the Tejas? It turns out that the problem is with the European Company. The Meteor Missile is jointly produced by European companies such as Thales Airborne Systems, Saab Bofors Dynamics, Bayern-Chemie, etc. It entered into service in 2016 and currently being used on many fighter jets such as the American F-35 Lightning II. With the maximum range of 150 kilometers and a maximum speed of Mach 4, also equipped with advanced systems like active radar guidance and two-way data link, and the no-escape zone three times larger than the american AIM-120D AMRAAM.
The problem now is that Israel was not involved in the design and development of this missile. Naturally, the radar developed by Israel and used by Tejas does not support this missile. If we want to solve this problem, we will need a technical cooperation between Israel and European companies. But this is not possible, because European companies always wanted to win the LCA Tejas radar system supply contract, so now India has already introduced Israeli radar on the aircraft, so the project of integrating Meteor is stuck now and the Meteor can only be installed on fighters equipped with European Airborne Radars.
In other words, Indian LCA fighters are now in a state of confusion, ignoring one thing for another, you can’t use a advanced missile like Meteor, if you are using a Israeli radar on the aircraft. If you want the Meteor on your aircraft, you will have to choose a radar which you don’t like. LCA radar needs to be replaced by European radar to solve this problem.
At the same time, India has introduced various types of advanced weapons and equipments made by different countries, which has created difficulty in the logistics support system. The equipments to support several different types of systems itself is a big burden, not to mention that the equipments supporting different types of systems does not have good compatibility. To combine different equipments of different systems, there are a lot of technical problems. Although in many cases, the manufacturers will be happy to provide support in this regard, but the problem still exists.
If India’s technical capabilities are very much strong and advanced, it may be possible to solve the technical problems related to compatibility, but in current situation of India it is not possible. In many cases, the compatibility problem depends on the support provided by the foreign manufacturers. If the manufacturers refuses to help, or even set some obstacles, India will be in a lot of trouble, and it is not simply a matter of spending money. This belongs to advantages and disadvantages of all nations, if India wants to take advantage of its advantages, it has to bear its disadvantages also.