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India, Russia sign deal for rockets

A $500 mn rocket systems deal with Russia has been signed after nearly five years of negotiation.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2006 10:49 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

After nearly five years of negotiations, India has finally signed a $500 million deal with Russia for Smerch-M 300mm BM 9A52-2 long-range surface-to-surface multiple rocket systems (MRSs) to equip two artillery regiments.

Inducting the Smerch systems into service will considerably augment the army's firepower, providing it the capability to neutralise a variety of targets like massed concentration of armour and troop deployment well beyond the range of any of its present artillery systems.

Artillery officers said its induction would give the army a decisive edge over Pakistan, whose multiple rocket systems lack Smrech's extended range.

Signed on New Year's eve after negotiations were completed in March 2005, the Smerch contract includes 28 wheeled-chassis, 12-tube launchers with logistics supply and fire-control vehicles.

The Smerch version the Indian Army is acquiring is capable of firing six types of rockets to a maximum range of 70 km, including several with a cassette warhead.

This is some 30 km further than the range of the 155mm howitzers in service with the army.

The cassette warheads are capable of carrying a variety of ordnance that includes cumulative and fragmentation elements, self-homing anti-tank elements or mines that can be devastating in battle.

Defence ministry sources said the Smerch contract was divided into three stages over as many years, with deliveries to be completed some time in early 2008.

Deliveries are scheduled to begin later this year with the arrival of launchers and "basic" rockets. This will be followed by the arrival of more advanced version launchers and the guided rockets.

Official sources said the defence ministry was to sign another contract before the end of 2005-06 for 28 Tangushka M1 gun and missile systems for low-level air defence.

The two systems will arm two artillery regiments with four platforms being kept in reserve.

Four artillery regiments have been operating around 80 Tangushka M1 systems since the late 1990s.

The Tangushka vehicles, capable of engaging fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters as well as ground targets while being stationary and on the move are equipped with eight 9M311-M1 surface-to-air missiles each.

These can counter land-based targets at ranges varying between 15 metres and six kilometres and between 15 meters and 10 km for airborne objects.

Two twin-barrel 30mm anti-aircraft guns mounted on the vehicle have a three-kilometre range when deployed against air targets and 4-km range against those on the ground.

First Published: Feb 09, 2006 10:49 IST