INDIA TO BUY QRSAM SYSTEMS FROM GLOBAL MARKET
By Bulbul Singh
28 Jan 10. India will no longer depend heavily for major weapons and equipment supplies from Israel. The Indian Army will procure Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air missiles(QRSAM) from the global market. Israel had emerged the largest supplier of weaponry to India last year toppling Russia, which had been the traditional supplier for 30 years.
This latest decision of the Indian government is a reversal of earlier plans to get the systems built under a joint development program between India’s defence research agency, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and an Israeli company.
Early last year, the Indian government had approved the biggest ever joint development program with Israel worth $10bn to jointly produce Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (MRSAM) for the Indian Air Force between DRDO and IAI of Israel, and later defence planners had mooted the idea of transferring the QRSAM project under this program for the Indian Army as well.
“The Indian Army will definitely procure QRSAM on a competitive basis from the overseas market,” said sources in the Indian Army.
Earlier, the 2008 global tender to procure the QRSAM had failed to evoke sufficient response from overseas bidders and only Rafael of Israel had been selected by the Indian defence ministry after technical evaluation.
“It was this poor response which had led some defence planners to moot the idea of transferring the QRSAM for the Indian Army to the Indo-Israeli MRSAM programme. However, the Indian defence ministry does not want to put all its eggs in one basket and not buy varieties of missiles solely from Israel,” said sources in the Indian defence ministry which resulted in this decision to return to the global market for QRSAM.
In 2008, bids were sent to Israel’s Rafael, Rheinmetall Defence of Germany, Raytheon of United States, Russia’s KPB Tula and MBDA of France Only MBDA and Rafael filed technical and commercial bids.
However, only Rafael was short-listed after the technical evaluation. The Indian defence ministry decided not to award the tender to Rafael of Israel without adequate competition said sources.
“The Indian Army will dilute some of the MRSAM parameters tender when floated after, studying the availability of QRSAM after the Request for Information (RFI)is received,” said sources in the Indian Army.
During the process of the earlier QRSAM tender procurement, several overseas bidders were critical of the Indian Army’s demand for requesting seeker technology for fire-and-forget-missiles, which they say is only effective in air-to-air battle and has serious limitations in the ground –to-air battle. Some of the foreign bidders had asked the Indian Army to opt for laser-guided missiles for the QRSAM system.
Some of the overseas bidders had said that they had a 12 kilometres range QRSAM as a standard range and needed to spend more on increasing the range to the required 15 kilometres as demanded by the Indian Army.
Besides, Raytheon did not get the required permission from Washington for the Transfer of Technology.
The Indian Army needs to procure three regiments-worth of QRSAM system with Transfer of Technology (TOT) and also purchase of 1485 missiles with ToT for the missiles.
The QRSAM system is proposed will be employed for providing air defence to the mechanized formations operating in the plains, semi-desert, and desert sectors of India. The technical parameters require that the QRSAM should be a quick reaction missile system capable of engaging all types of air targets including aircraft, hovering helicopter and helicopters on the ground with their rotors moving, low flying, targets including suddenly appearing targets at close ranges, missiles and other future aerial targets.
The missile characteristics include a range of not less than 15 kilometres cross-over, range of not less t