The Meteor beyond-visual range missiles are set to bolster India’s air defence

The Meteor missile, which is coming along with the Rafale combat deal will help reestablish the aerial supremacy of the Indian Air Force (IAF) against their rivals in Pakistan and China. India has bought a package of the European Meteor missiles along with the Rafales and will prove to be game changers due to their beyond-visual-range striking capability of close to 150 km.

In the Kargil war the Indian Air Force had complete air superiority over the Pakistan Air Force as it did not have any beyond-visual range missile fitted on their F-16s or the Chinese supplied planes. 

The Meteor missile was not part of the Rafale deal that was being done by the UPA government but when Prime Minister Modi decided to go in for an emergency procurement of the Rafale planes from France, the Air Force desired to include the Meteors as part of the weapons package.

During the Kargil war, IAF had two beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles which included the French Super 530D with semi-active radar homing and the Russian Vympel NPO R-77 with active radar homing/infrared homing missiles which deterred the Pakistanis from using its fighter plane fleet in the Kargil war with India.

'The over-arching consideration was the BVR missile capability of IAF fighters which impinged unfavourably on the mission success probability,' said a former Pakistan Air Force Commodore.

However, the situation changed after the Americans the AIM120-C5 BVR missiles with inertial guidance and terminal active radar homing features, it has the capability of taking out enemy planes 100 km away and it is already integrated on their F-16s. This somewhat changed the balance in terms of aerial superiority over the skies of South Asia, but with the Meteor coming in now, IAF can again say that it would be able to completely dominate in terms of air-to-air battle with aerial adversaries.

It is widely believed that even the Chinese don't have any proven air-to-air missiles that can be launched from any of their fighter planes. Besides, one good thing about the Meteor is that it has not yet been integrated with any American-origin aircraft and the Pakistani F-16s or the Chinese-origin JF-17s can't get anytime soon The possibility of the Chinese integrating them is also entirey ruled out.

India is currently going to get the missiles with the Rafale that it has procured but has plans of integrating these missiles on the Sukhoi Su-30MKI air superiority combat jets, which will further enhance IAF's capabilities vis-à-vis Pakistan and China.

Our Bureau