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By Bulbul Singh

12 Apr 13. In a departure from procedures, India will award a contract for buying Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) from Rafael of Israel, because the Indian Army cannot wait due to critical shortages in its inventory of ATGMs. The Defence Acquisition Council of Indian Ministry of Defence, the highest body authorized to buy weaponry agreed at its April 3 meeting to buy ATGMS from Rafael even as the Israeli company is categorized as a single vendor. Normally the Indian Ministry of Defence cancels a tender when it has a single vendor.

The Indian Army entered the global market in 2010 to procure third generation Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) along with missiles and the Request for Proposal (RFP) had been sent to MBDA of France, Raytheon and General Dynamics of U.S., Rafael of Israel and Rosoboronoexport of Russia.

However, only Rafael of Israel was left in the fray as the other companies did not agree to transfer technology and as such did not respond to the tender.

The Indian Army proposes to buy third generation ATGM systems including 321 Missile Launchers, 8356 missiles and 15 training simulators and associated accessories along with transfer of technology. The Indian Army will use the Spike ATGM’s to be mounted on the Russian made BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles.

The Indian Army wants the ATGMs to be capable of being launched from vehicle or ground and should also be man – portable over short distances. The Indian requirement is that some of the missiles be supplied in fully formed condition, others in semi-knocked down condition and some specific number be produced under license from the vendor at India’s state owned Bharat Dynamics Limited, added the official. The Indian army failed to get transfer of technology for the third generation ATGMs when it had earlier entered the global market in 2006 as well.

The purchase of the third generation ATGMs is in addition to the homegrown Nag ATGM and also an ongoing proposal to buy Javelin ATGMs from United States on Government-to-Government basis.

India has already issued a Letter of Request in 2010 to the U.S. government for the purchase of Javelin ATGM but the deal has not fructified due to stalemate on transfer of technology. Javelin manufactured by a Raytheon and Lockheed Martin JV has already been tested by the Indian Army in 2009 during a local exercise named Indo-U.S. Yudh Abhyas. India and the US have been talking about the Javelin since 2008, when Raytheon first disclosed its intention to sell it to India.

The homemade Nag ATGM is equipped with Imaging Infra-red seeker (IIR) and a highly potent tandem HEAT (high explosive anti-tank) warhead. The day-and-night third generation missile with top-attack capability has a maximum range of four km. It is expected to be inducted by the Army after conducting final validation trials in the deserts of Rajasthan next month, added the Indian defence ministry official.

“The Indian Army needs other varieties of third generation ATGMs with hand held ability along with the acquisition of the Nag missile.” said a senior Indian Army official.

The Indian Army has already contracted 443 Nag Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) for $73 million, while Nag has still to complete the final trials. Nag is already behind schedule by over ten years.

The Nag missile has an Israeli seeker head. After being denied the Seeker Head technology by Thales of France, Defence Research and development Organisation (DRDO) which is developing the missile, tied up with Rafael of Israel to provide the Seeker Heads.

The Seeker Head is an advance Electro Optical system which is critical in the guidance of the Nag ATGM. The Indian Army alone has a requirement of around 12,000 Nag missiles and another 1000 hele-borne ATGMs for the helicopters.

The production of Nag missile will lead to replacement of the existing Russian Konkours and Euromissile Milan

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