Army set to get its first consignment of Spike anti-tank guided missiles under emergency purchases

The Israeli Spike anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) is a weapon system the Indian army has been looking for, particularly to protect its infantrymen and then, its tanks against enemy armour. Now, after months of waiting, the Army will get its first consignment– a small one, though– of the Spike.

Spike is an Israeli fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile and anti-personnel missile with a tandem-charge HEAT warhead, currently in its fourth-generation. It was developed and designed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It is available in man-portable, vehicle-launched, and helicopter-launched variants.

Originally, this $500 million deal was cancelled in November 2017 following a report by an expert committee, constituted by the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, which found the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) capable of producing these missiles indigenously. This was followed by a much-hyped trip by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2018 at the end of which he claimed that the deal was ‘back on the table’. And yet, in December 2018, it was reported to have been cancelled again after having failed test runs in high-temperature conditions. Predictably, Netanyahu was expected to travel again to India soon after, focusing on defence deals, but the trip did not materialise.

The initial consignment of 8,000 missile heads, which was later distributed between DRDO and Rafael’s local joint venture — Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems — has now been reduced to 240, and is being bought under the ‘emergency procurement’ category.

The Rs 280 crore deal gets the Army 210 missiles and 12 launchers with delivery expected soon. The deal is part of the ’emergency purchase’ mechanism that the armed forces are allowed, and in the wake of the Indian Air Force’s strike on terror camps in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan and the Pakistani Army moving some of its troops right to the border, much required.

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According to the rules, the Army vice chief is allowed Rs 300 crore for emergency purchases, and last weekend, this was cleared after the Army Commanders’ Conference. Senior army officials said the previous effort– a much larger deal– was stuck; discussions were still going on with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

While that deal related to a weapon-system that was ‘third-generation,’ this purchase is of a new, ‘fourth-generation’ missile with superior performance. The Emergency Purchase provision was used primarily because such purchases during the time of elections are usually more difficult. The Spike is likely to be effective against reactive armour; the 4 km range is also a positive.

Of course, it is a small order. But if the Spike proves to be effective, a larger order could happen in the future.

Source:- Times Now

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