The Indian Army intends to buy the US-designed Javelin anti-tank guided missile to equip its troops with the capability to defeat enemy armour systems. The defence ministry is expected to issue a letter of request (LOR) to the US government for a potential sale of the weapon system used by the US Marine Corps, the US Army and 11 other militaries.
India plans to buy Javelin under the foreign military sales (FMS) programme, a government-to-government transaction between the US and friendly countries.
Indian soldiers operated the weapon last October during exercise Yudh Abhyas, the annual Indo-US military drill held at the Babina firing ranges near Jhansi.
"It engaged and destroyed targets every time it was fired during the exercise," said an army officer. Javelin was fired nine times, including thrice by Indian soldiers. The fire-and-forget weapon system is a joint venture between US aerospace and defence giants Raytheon Company and Lockheed Martin.
Raytheon Asia President Admiral Walter F. Doran told HT at the Farnborough International Airshow that the LOR from India was awaited for a possible sale.
India has taken the FMS route to buy equipment worth billions of dollars from the US. Some recent contracts include the $2.1-billion (around Rs 9,450 crore) deal for eight P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft and another worth $1 billion (Rs 4,500 crore) for six C-130J Super Hercules military airlifters. India is also negotiating with the US to buy M777 ultra-light howitzers and C-17 military transport aircraft.
The US believes FMS transactions may be complicated in their conception and execution, but are more transparent to financial scrutiny.
Although designed to destroy tanks and armoured vehicles, Javelin provides day/night secondary capability against helicopters and fixed defences such as bunkers and buildings. The imaging infrared system allows the gunner to acquire targets even in darkness and limited visibility.
Javelin's normally engages and destroys a tank in the 'top-attack’ mode. It also has a direct-attack capability to engage targets with overhead cover or in bunkers. The fire-and-forget capability allows the gunner to acquire another target or move position as soon as the missile is launched. It has a range of 2.5 km.
(The writer is in the UK at the invitation of Raytheon)