Govt drops plan to buy Israeli Spike anti-tank missiles, stresses Make in India
India has dropped plans to buy Spike anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) systems worth Rs 3,200 crore from Israel, defence ministry sources said on Monday. Instead, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been asked to develop the ATGMs for the army’s infantry and mechanised infantry units to provide impetus to the Make in India plan, the sources said.
India was negotiating the purchase of 321 launchers and 8,356 fire-and-forget missiles with Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd.
However, a report in Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted a Rafael spokesperson as saying that the Israeli firm had not been officially informed of any change in the decision to buy Spike missiles. Rafael already “began the transfer of development and manufacturing knowledge as part of the Make-in-India program. This activity will continue as planned,” Rafael deputy spokesman Ishai David told Haaretz.
With the defence ministry retracting the tender to buy the ATGM systems, the army’s wait to induct the weapon is likely to get longer, army sources said. The DRDO could take up to four years to develop the next-generation ATGMs.
The Spike missile can destroy armoured vehicles and bunkers from a distance of 2.5 km and the army was planning to equip more than 400 units with the third-generation ATGM systems.
The decision not to buy the missiles comes around 10 months after the defence ministry appointed a committee, headed by a major general, to examine various aspects related to the deal.
India had chosen the Israeli ATGM over US defence and aerospace firm Raytheon’s Javelin system nearly four years ago. The army currently uses the older Milan and Konkur ATGMs built by public sector undertaking Bharat Dynamics Limited under license from French and Russian firms, respectively.
Hoping that it world bag the order, Rafael had stitched up an alliance with India’s Kalyani Group to produce the missiles in Hyderabad.