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By Bulbul Singh

23 Oct 06. India’s homegrown Trishul missile given one more year extension; defence official however say the missile is almost shelved.

After repeated revisions on the time frame work on completion of India’s homegrown Quick Reaction Missile, Trishul, the Indian government has announced that it is extending the date of completion by yet another year.

However, sources in the defence ministry say the Trishul missile project launched in 1983 is virtually scrapped and the Indian defence forces will have to resort to overseas purchases to meet the needs of the Quick Reaction Missiles.

The Indian defence minister Pranab Mukherjee announced October 16 that he is extending the completion of the Trishul project by yet another year to December 2007. The announcement of the extension of time for completion of the Trishul missile comes a week after the former Defence Minister George Fernandes was charge sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the purchase of Barak missiles from Israel at a cost of $320m, which were purchased from IAI of Israel after the Indian defence forces rejected the Trishul missile in the various trials.

Sources in the Indian defence ministry say the Trishul has only been given a notional lease of life and that the Quick Reaction Missiles will ultimately be bought from overseas markets for the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army.

In fact the Indian Air Force finalized the purchase of Spyder Low Level Quick Reaction Missile systems from Rafael of Israel last month because the Trishul missile meant for the Indian Air Force was not ready for induction. Even the Indian Army is purchasing unspecified numbers of Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile as the Trishul version for the Indian Army has been rejected in several earlier trials due to technical problems with the guidance system.

The Trishul system was to have replaced the Russian OSA-AK weapon system and has not met with any success said an Indian Army official adding that the delays in the induction of Trishul missile have derailed modernization of the air defence system of the Indian Army resulting in critical voids.

A defence ministry official said in private that the Indian defence ministry had already decided in 2002 to abandon the Trishul project and is now undertaking it only on an experimental basis.

The Trishul project which began in 1983 by India’s defense Research agency, Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO)was designed to produce over 150 Trishul systems for the defense forces. When asked what is the meaning of the extension of the Trishul missile for another one year, as announced the Indian defence ministry, the official expressed his ignorance on how the Trishul missile will be completed by another one year.

The Trishul system cannot detect targets on real basis nor can it achieve accuracy of its specified range of 9 kilometers, added the defence ministry official.

The Trishul is a short range, quick reaction, all weather surface-to-air missile designed to counter a low-level attack with a range of 9 kilometers and operates in the K-band which makes it difficult to jam, claimed a DRDO scientist.

During the 1999 Kargil battle with Pakistan the Indian Navy had asked the Indian defence ministry to give protection to its warships and aircraft carrier INS Viraat with Quick Reaction Missiles as the Trishul missile was still in the trial stage. The Indian Navy finally contracted the purchase of seven Barak missiles from Israel in 2000, during the tenure of George Ferandes as India’s Defence Minister.

India’s Defence Minister in his latest announcement said, that on the suggestion of DRDO the Trishul missile’s completion schedule has been extended by another one year and stated that the there is no question of shelving the project.

The Indian Army official however said, he fears

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