Ten days before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lands in Paris on his first official visit, there's going to be plenty on the table to announce. Moments ago, the Indian MoD cleared the decks for the revival of the all-but-stalled Indo-French SR-SAM (designated 'Maitri') programme. The MoD has instructed the DRDO to progress project discussions with MBDA to begin development for an SR-SAM system for the Indian Navy. As Livefist reported last month, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had received representations from both MBDA and the Indian Navy on moving ahead with the project. Here's Livefist's projection :
- The programme will now move ahead principally as a ship-borne SR-SAM system. Spin off variants for the IAF and Indian Army could presumably come later.
- MBDA says development will be complete in three years from agreement signature. Things could move quickly given that all workshare and other components of the partnership have already been decided.
- MBDA has represented to the DRDO that the Maitri programme could be plugged in for the Akash Mk.2. The precise modalities of that will need to be worked out, though the DRDO is currently on a well-earned high on Akash Mk.1 -- deliveries to the Indian Army begin in a few days, with fresh orders from the IAF in the works.