The Union government is reported to have cancelled a planned massive USD 500 million deal with Israel for Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM).
The Indian Express newspaper reported on Monday that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has instead asked the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to indigenously develop a Man-Portable ATGM for the Army.
The report said the Spike MR missile is a 3rd generation, fire and forget, top attack, ATGM. It has an operational range of 2.5 kilometres and is capable of being used both during the day and night.
The missile deal had come to be seen as an important milestone in growing Indo-Israel defence ties – it was at the stage of Request for Proposal (RFP) and on the verge of being inked following completion of price negotiations with Rafael Advanced Defence Systems of Israel last year.
The report said Rafael had set up a missile sub-systems manufacturing unit near Hyderabad last year in partnership with Kalyani group ahead of the finalisation of the deal.
Government sources said the MoD decided to cancel the planned deal in a bid to push indigenous development of weapon systems by DRDO.
It may be recalled that India had earlier said no to an offer by US-based Raytheon-Lockheed Martin for Javelin ATGM and decided to go ahead with the Israeli weapon system.
The DRDO, which has in the past developed the successful Nag and Anamika ATGMs, plans to hand over to the Army a 3rd generation MPATGM within the next three to four years.
To develop an MPATGM, the organisation would also not require any transfer of technology, sources said.
The move, however, is seen as a setback to the Army’s modernisation programme. The Army had supported the Spike deal, saying the weapon system would provide it with major capabilities along the Line of Control with Pakistan.