The Indian Defense Ministry has decided to cancel the $500m deal with Rafael of Israel for the development and production of a man-portable Spike anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), preferring to indigenously develop and produce this weapon at home. Earlier, India had rejected an offer from the US Raytheon-Lockheed Martin for Javelin ATGMs on the same grounds.
Negotiations for the deal with Rafael were completed last year amid growing Indo-Israeli defense cooperation. In anticipation of the sale, Rafael built a missile sub-systems manufacturing facility near Hyderabad, which was inaugurated in August. Sources at Rafael say they have no knowledge of the Indian Defense Ministry’s decision to cancel the anti-tank missile deal and are going ahead with production without pause.
India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), having produced the Nag and Anamika ATGMs, is confident it can also provide the army with a 3rd generation missile technology on a par with Spike, but it will take three to four years. Meanwhile, the army will suffer a setback to its modernization program. It appears that the DRDO and the army were at odds on the Israeli Spike deal, and the army gave way to the former’s demand to scrap it.
Spike MR missile is a 3rd generation, fire and forget, top attack, ATGM with a range of 2.5 km, which can operate both during the day and night. The Indian Army is currently using 2nd generation ATGMs — Konkurs and Milan 2T — which do not have night-fighting capabilities. Moreover, it is currently short of around 68,000 missiles, with none to spare for War Wastage Reserves