INDIA SHELVES JOINT MRSAM WITH ISRAEL AND ENTERS GLOBAL MARKET
By Bulbul Singh
26 May 08. Fearing political backlash in an election year, the Indian government has put on hold one of its most ambitious program with Israel to jointly develop Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) with increased range. The Indian government has in fact decided to hunt in the global market to purchase the MRSAM systems.
The Indian defence ministry has now floated a global bid for the purchase of one group of Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (MRSAM) for use by the Indian Armed forces. The RFP has been sent to defence overseas companies in Israel, France, United States, Germany, and Russia. Though Indian defence ministry officials refused to say whether the floating of the global RFP for MRSAM was a direct result of putting on hold the project with Israel, sources said, for the time being the project with Israel to jointly-produce MRSAM is put on hold which that is why the global bids have been floated.
In 2007, the Indian government had given the go ahead to produce extended range Barak MRSAM jointly between Rafael, and IAI of Israel and India’s defence research agency, Defence Research and Development Organisation, [DRDO]. However, funds have not been granted for the project following pressures from the Left political parties, who are supporting the current minority United Progressive Alliance government not to sign big ticket programs with Israel. The 2007 joint production venture between India and Israel for MRSAM is worth over $2.5bn. Going ahead with such a big ticket program with Israel could threaten the Muslim vote of the ruling UPA which has resulted in this decision to put the joint production on hold.
Sources in the Indian defence ministry say, it is for the next government now to decide the fate of the joint production project.
Meanwhile the global bids floated this month for the acquisition of MRSAM from the overseas market will have a minimum range of 50kms and ability to hit at an altitude of up to 10kms.
The MRSAM is proposed to be employed for providing air defence to the mechanized formations operating in the plains, semi desert and desert sectors of the country and for the critical assets of the holding corps. The system will replace the aging Russian made OSA-AK air defence system with the Indian defence forces.
The requirements specify that the missile should be suitable to engage the required targets at the maximum effective range of the missile at a speed of 0 to 800m/s for approaching targets and 0 to 350 m/s for receding targets.
The MRSAM missile should be a quick-reaction missile system capable of engaging all types of air targets including aircraft, hovering helicopter, UAVs, missile and other aerial targets. The in-service life and shelf life of the equipment of the MRSAM is require3d to be minimum of 25 hours from the completion of the procurement while the shelf life of the missiles will be minimum 10 years. The vendor will have to provide training to the crew, maintenance personnel and quality assurance specialists at various levels.
The Indian government also desires that the depot-level maintenance (third line) and the life-time support of the MRSAM system be carried out through state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited [BDL]. As such, the vendor will have to set up maintenance infrastructure and facilities for the third line repairs in India at BDL facilities.
The size and weight of the MRSAM system should be as light as possible and the system should be able to be transportable on Indian railways, road and even air. The system is required to have an automatic fire suppression facility, NBCh protection, have advanced Night Vision Devices
As for the endurance, the system should be able to operate continuously for 24 hours, however, for sustained operation, it should be able to operate for 12 hours and with a break of 02 hours and operate for 12 ho