Qioptiq logo Raytheon


By Bulbul Singh

18 Oct 07. In a quest to modernize its air defense assets, the Indian defense ministry has embarked upon a $2bn programme under which Indian Army and Air Force aging Russian short-range air defense missile systems will be replaced through direct purchases.

Along side India has also mooted a joint development programme for development for medium range air defense missile systems for the Indian defense force.

The Indian defence forces have begun looking for direct purchases of air defence systems and missiles from overseas companies, mostly in the West.

Current aging Russian air defence systems need upgrading or replacement. Currently, the air defence systems are mostly of Russian origin bought from the USSR in the 60’s and 70’s.

Besides, the homegrown effort to produce air defence at the state- owned Defence Research Development Organisation is delayed by over 10 years and the underdevelopment projects like Trishul surface to air systems are still not in sight of completion. The Trishul program was launched in 1984 by India’s state-owned defense research agency, the Defence Research and Development Organisation, but the missile failed to hit targets on the nine-kilometer range in more than two dozen tests over the last two years, an Air Force official said.

Rafael was short-listed for supply of Spyder Missiles against MBDA of France early this year for supply of missiles worth $325m but the deal has also run into trouble as the Indian Air Force has last minute changed its mind not to accept the Spyder mechanical loading systems given the requirement for an automatic system.

Rafael was short listed from amongst France, Israel, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The Air Force owns about 100 Russian OSA self-propelled anti-aircraft integrated systems, including missile guiding racks and target-detection radars and needs replacements and additions to shore up the air defence preparedness.


The Indian Army is also entering the global market to purchase Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile [QRSAM] systems at a cost of over $1.5bn.

The QRSAM systems will provide air defense to the mechanized formations operating in the plains, and semi-desert sectors in the country.

The air defence systems should be able to engage targets including aircrafts, hovering helicopters, low-flying targets including suddenly appearing targets at close range, missiles, and other futuristic aerial targets.

Rafael of Israel, Oerlikon Contraves of Canada, Boeing and Raytheon of United States and KPB Tula of Russia are in the race for the contract.
The Indian Army currently uses Russian OSA-AK, Kvadrat, Shilka and Tunguska air defence systems to meet its air defense requirements.


In addition to the global purchases Israel’s help is sought by the DRDO for co-development and co-production of advanced air defence systems.

A contract has already been signed for the co-production and development of an extended range of the Barak air defence surface-to-air missile system with a range of 150 kilometers.

India’s missile research agency, Defence research and Development Laboratory [DRDL] at Hyderabad under DRDO Israel Aircraft Industry and Rafael of Israel have also signed for joint development of the missile systems.

This is a futuristic program of the Indian Air Force which will replace the existing Pechora surface to air missile systems.

Indian Air Force has requirement of nine such squadrons in future.
Each squadron will have two compete SAM units. One typical unit will comprise of: One Acquisition radar; One Guidance radar; one command and control center; three launchers and each launcher will have eight missiles.

Back to article list