FATE OF INDO-FRENCH MISSILE PROGRAMME UNCERTAIN
By Bulbul Singh
11 May 10. Last month the Indian Army went on a global hunt to acquire Short-Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (SRSAM)to counter threats to cities and important installations in the country from enemy aircraft and missiles, a move which is likely to put a question mark on the proposed Indo-French SRSAM project for the Army. Sources in the Indian defence ministry said,”With the floating of a global Request for Information (RFI), for a missile with a 20 kilometres range, the fate of the Indo-French, Maitri SRSAM project appears to be dim, now that no formal accord has been signed between the two sides since the project was first conceived three years ago.”
The two sides have held advance discussions on the Maitri project but sources said,”There are some problems on the Transfer of Technology parameters.”
Maitri is proposed to be developed jointly by India’s defense research agency, Defense Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] and MBDA of France.
The requirements of the Indian Army for the SRSAM specify that the system can be can be transported on both rail and road mobile launchers in varied terrains, including at night.
Besides, the missiles should have the capability to target objects moving at speeds between zero to 500m per second including hovering targets such as UAVs, fighters, surveillance aircraft and helicopters.
The SRSAM system should also have the capability of tracking a number of targets simultaneously and should have Electronic Counter Counter-Measures (ECCM) to be able to support the EW environment.
The Indian Army has to buy SRSAM as its homemade Trishul air defence program has been scrapped, as it failed to come up to the specifications of the Indian Army, after nearly two decades of research.
The proposed Maitri project is modeled on government-to-government R&D partnership as is in the case of the Russian BrahMos project so that the two governments guarantee the flow of funds and technology.
The plan calls for MBDA to develop the active homing head system, thrust vector control systems and missiles, while the software, command-and-control system and system integration will be carried out by the DRDL.
Indian scientists were to have developed the new generation acquisition radar which is capable of tracking multiple targets at a distance of up to 240 kilometers.
So far, India’s efforts to acquire Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missiles(MRSAM) has not yielded results as none of the vendors could come up to the required Technology Transfer raised by the Indian side.
Sources in the Indian Army said,”It is unlikely to get SRSAM from the global market given the stringent requirement of Technology Transfer. Adding that the Indian government may have to resort to purchase the SRSAM on single-vendor basis later. “The fate of the Maitri project is open as long as India does not get the SRSAM from the overseas market,” added the sources.