Seeking to bolster the anti-tank arsenal of its infantry troops, the Indian Army is moving ahead with a proposal to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel which will meet the urgent requirement of these missiles for the force.
“To meet the immediate requirements of the infantry battalions of the Army, a proposal is being moved for buying Spike missiles for the force, which will be taken up for discussion at very high level in the defence ministry in the coming weeks,” a government source told Mail Today.
The requirements of the Army are so huge that they will be met with the missile systems supplied by the Israelis along with the ones to be produced by DRDO in future as it is also developing the man-portable ATGMs, sources said.
The Army needs third-generation ATGMs, with a strike range of over 2.5 km and fire-and-forget capabilities, to equip all its 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised infantry units, which will carry them on their Russian BMP combat vehicles.
Sources said this combination of buying from abroad and allowing Make in India at the same time will balance the need for taking care of national security requirements along with the need to promote the indigenous industry. The defence ministry has been in talks with Israel and USA for a long time to get the third generation anti-tank missiles and had ultimately zeroed in on the Spike missiles under an old deal, which would have cost around Rs 3,000 crore.
This is not the first time the defence ministry has decided in favour of Make in India projects over foreign imports as recently, one project to buy two regiments of short-range surface-to-air missiles (SRSAM) worth Rs 18,000 crore was disallowed in favour of Akash surface-to-air defence missile systems.
In the earlier competition for ATGMs, India had also tried one American fire-and-forget ATGM, but that offer was not accepted due to unacceptable terms. Spike missile is a third generation, fire-and-forget, top attack ATGM with a range of 2.5 km, which can operate both during day and night against an incoming enemy tank regiment.
The Army is currently using second generation Konkurs and Milan 2T ATGMs, which do not have night-fighting capabilities.
According to reports, the Army currently has a shortage of around 68,000 missiles, with no missiles held as War Wastage Reserves against a government stipulation to build up stocks to last for at least 10 days of intense fighting.
The DRDO has a long list of successes in the field of missile defence systems and has not only developed the strategic systems, but is also gaining expertise in air defence as well. It recently tested the quick reaction surface-to-air missile system for the armed forces within a few months of being tasked to do the development. Its small range missile NAG is also moving ahead towards acceptance by the armed forces.