As India prepares to ward off threats from ballistic missiles, the US has offered to equip the Indian military with a combat-proven surface-to-air guided missile system designed to protect US troops from tactical ballistic and cruise missile strikes.
Acting in response to a request for proposal (RFP) floated by the Indian ministry of defence for medium range surface-to-air missiles, US defence contractor Raytheon made a sales pitch for the Patriot air defence system at the Farnborough international air show on Tuesday.
Patriot programme vice president Skip Garrett told HT that the officials of the US department of defence had made two classified briefings detailing Patriot’s capabilities and India had “formally expressed interest” in the system’s newest configuration. The PAC-3 missile incorporated in the upgraded Patriot system uses hit-to-kill technology to destroy ballistic missile targets.
The US has invested over $3 billion during the last 10 years to improve Patriot's performance. Garrett, a retired two-star general, said the system would remain the cornerstone of US Army’s air defence till 2028. The Patriot is capable of simultaneously engaging multiple targets in severe electronic countermeasure conditions.
Garrett will have to contend with global rivals, including Russian and the Israeli manufacturers, in his quest for an Indian order. Likely competition could come from the Israeli Arrow-2 missile defence system and a variant of Russia’s S-300 surface-to-air missiles that can intercept tactical ballistic and cruise missiles. But it is doubtful if the US, which partially funded the Arrow programme, will allow Israel to vend the system to a third country. The range of tactical ballistic missiles is typically around 150-300 km.
The MoD had asked international vendors to respond to the RFP by July-end, but the deadline has been extended by two months to give them a fair chance to compete.