Indian Army selects Russian Igla-S missile system
Indian Army has picked Russia’s Igla-S missile system as choice for its multibillion dollar contract for man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS). Igla-S bid around $1.47 billion from Russia’s Rosoboronexport had emerged lowest bidder for Indian Army’s Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) deal. The other bidders were MBDA of France (bid of $3.68 billion) and SAAB of Sweden (bid of $2.6 billion). The deal is expected to be inked when Indian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical cooperation meeting will take place in Moscow in December 2018.
Concerns for this deal
There is shadow of US financial sanctions for arms purchases from Russia under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law that restricts defence purchases from Russia, Iran and North Korea. US is yet to grant India waiver for $5.43 billion S-400 surface-to-air missiles defence system as well as naval warship deal with Russia signed in early October 2018 under CAATSA. US had imposed sanctions on China for purchasing Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missiles defence system from Russia as it violated US sanctions under CAATSA.
It is latest model of Russian MANPADS (Man-portable air-defense system) technology. It offers superior performance over earlier supplied SA-18 missiles to India. It is designed for use against visible aerial targets at short range such as tactical aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), cruise missile, head-on or receding, in presence of natural (background) clutter and countermeasures. As per requirements of Indian Army, it will have maximum range of 6km, altitude of 3km along with all-weather capability. Igla-S missile system will replace the existing Igla in service which is in urgent need of replacement.
Indian Army had initiated process to procure VSHORAD missiles in 2010. It had went through several rounds of trails before Igla-S qualified in January 2018, along with two other competitors Swedish SAAB’s RBS70 NG, and France’s MBDA Mistral. VSHORAD programme was initiated to replace Russian Igla-M systems that have been used by Army since the 1980s is considered critical for defence against incoming helicopters, UAVs and ground attack aircraft. Under this programme, Indian Army had issued Request for Proposal (RFP) for 5,175 missiles and associated equipment, out of which around 2,300 missiles will be bought in fully formed condition, 260 will be in semi-knocked down (SKD) condition and 1,000 missiles will be completely knocked down (CKD) and 600 missiles will be produced in India under Make in India initiative.