Jun 2, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — India is reportedly set to buy a batch of anti-tank guided missiles from Israel in a bid to boost its military capabilities against Pakistan and China and preparedness for a potential two-front war with its western and northern neighbors.
Indian government is likely to soon finalize with Israel purchase of a batch of Spike anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), which would significantly enhance its anti-tank capability against its two neighbors Islamabad and Beijing, according to news reported in Times of India.
The report quoted an unnamed source as saying the anti-tank Spike missiles would be used as a “stop-gap” measure before the India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) could come up with an indigenous anti-tank missile of its own at par with Spike within the next three years.
Spike with a range of up to 2.5 kilometers is a third generation portable multi-purpose missile weapon system which weighs around 13 kilograms.
The missile can reportedly be deployed from a tripod, vehicles, helicopters and marine vessels. It is a ‘fire and forget’ anti-tank missile that locks on to targets before shooting.
The purchase proposal is at an advanced stage and is awaiting Delhi’s approval, the source said, without revealing any details.
The order for the anti-tank guided missile, made by Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., could be placed this year to meet the Indian army’s urgent requirements, according to the source.
A Rafael spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg that a potential deal was under discussion with Delhi, but declined to comment further until any signing was done.
The decision was made months after the Indian government scrapped a previously negotiated deal to buy 500 million dollar worth Spike missiles, and requisite technology transfer to the Indian entity Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
The decision to cancel the deal was based on the consideration that importing a foreign ATGM would adversely impact the program for indigenous development of the weapon system by DRDO.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal was “back on” the front-burner after the meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during his visit to the Indian capital in January together with Rafael CEO Yoav Har Even.
Days after the visit, Tel Aviv said India would buy the ATGMs and that the final details and scope of the deal were being worked out.
The Indian government, however, once again annulled the contract after the DRDO promised to develop an indigenous anti-tank missile to meet the army requirement of over 8,000 anti-tank missiles by 2021.
However, sources told Indian news agency PTI that the proposal to acquire the missile system faced hurdles when Israeli side apparently expressed reservations in ensuring full transfer of technology as per the provisions of the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
The DRDO has on the other hand promised to deliver the India-made missile for trials by the end of 2018. Once the trials are successful, the Indian anti-tank missile would go in for mass production by 2021. DRDO tested its anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) NAG 190 in desert conditions against two tank targets in March.
Israeli defense experts believe that it will take another five years at least until India’s NAG 190 is fully operational. While a Pakistani expert says it could take longer than 5 years given India’s track record of meeting targets to produce locally. However, in India itself, experts believe that the NAG 190 will be fully developed by the end of the year, according to local media reports.
Over the past several months there has been a major dispute between DRDO and the Indian army, which wants to buy Spike anti-tank missiles from Rafael and hundreds of launchers, which will be made in cooperation with an Indian company Kalyani.
DRDO has been demanding that the NAG 190 should be favored by the Indian army, which insists that unlike the Indian missile, the Spike is already operational.
In order to move ahead with the Spike deal, Rafael has already formed a joint venture with Kalyani to manufacture the missiles in India using knowhow brought over from Israel. A new plant for the Spike missiles was inaugurated near Hyderabad last summer.
Until the matter is settled, the Indian government is going for purchasing the batch of Spike missiles through the government-to-government route like it did in sealing the deal for procuring 36 Rafale jets from France.