INDIA TO BUY STINGER MISSILES
By Bulbul Singh
31 Oct 13. Raytheon has offered its Stinger missile to India, a proposal, if accepted, could hit the ongoing purchase programme of the $2 billion Very Short Range Air Defence Missile System (VSHORAD) system, currently in process. The United States is actively pitching for the Stinger and has offered technology transfer to India. This was earlier withheld when the tender was first floated in 2010. The issue has been discussed at length and the Stinger could be purchased on government-to-government basis, a favoured route being chosen by India to procure weapons.
The Indian defence ministry has been procuring weapons and equipment through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route ever since the new United Progressive Alliance government came to power in 2009 and India has contracted weapons from the U.S. worth over $8.5 billion, the bulk of which was procured via FMS.
India entered the global market in 2010 for the purchase of over 5000 VSHORAD systems along with technology transfer for the missiles and associated equipment. The competitors in the race include SAAB of Sweden, MBDA of France and Rosoboronexport of Russia. After the quality assurance trials and meteorological trials, none of the competitors have been able to meet 100 per cent of the conditions. The Russians failed in the 2012 summer trials as the Russian system failed on account of limited range and rate of firing.
For radars and electronics SAAB tied up with state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) while MBDA tied up with domestic private sector defence major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Ltd.. Rosoboronexport, with its Igla-S system, chose to go alone in the project.
The VSHORAD requirements include capability of engaging aerial targets 24/7, the effective range of the system should be six kilometers. Of the 5175 missiles and associated equipment, 2315 missiles will be bought in fully formed condition, 1260 semi-knocked down, 1000 in completely knocked-down condition and 600 will be made at Indian facilities.
The associated equipment will include launchers, sensors, thermal imaging sights and command and control units. MBDA has pitched its U-Mistral system, already selected for arming the Indian-made Dhruv helicopter in a separate tender.
SAAB had earlier pitched its RBS 70 but later offered its upgraded RBS 70NG introduced in 2011.
The VSHORAD purchase is to replace the aging Russian Igla air defence systems and will be used by both the Indian Army and Air Force.
The VSHORAD being sought is for a man portable system which can be employed in varied terrain, including high altitude areas of greater than 3500 meters, Plains, semi-deserts, deserts, snow, coastal areas and even for maritime deployment.
As such, the system should be able to operate between temperatures of -25 to +55 degrees C, have the ability to operate in conditions with humidity of more than 98%.
The weight of the missile and launch tube should not be more than 25 kilograms and should be able to be transported by manpack, in vehicles, trains and aircraft and should also have the capability to be para-dropped.
The VSHORAD will be integrated with a passive/active sensor to be mounted on a platform with a facility to mount on light vehicles. The system should have capabilities for multiple target detection and tracking ability 24/7, provide target coordinates to facilitate target acquisition. The system should have C3 capability for detection processing and engaging aerial targets.
For quick operations, the time for each missile from container to ready to fire should not exceed ten minutes, and the missile must be ready to fire within three seconds of switching on the battery.