The army had conducted field trials in 2014-15 of the missile systems from Rosoboronexport, the sole state agency for Russia’s exports/imports of defence-related products, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel and Swedish SAAB.
Highly-placed sources told FE that “there was a difference of opinion over the compliance of the systems tested as there was a very minor difference and the Israeli Spyder QR-SAMs reportedly come out to as clear winner.”
However, the matter was raised during the Defence Acquisition Council meeting in September 2016 headed by defence minister Manohar Parrikar. The choice laid down was either to open commercial bid for all three despite minor differences or go with a single vendor,”explained sources.
It was decided in September 2016 to explore options for other vendors as well as re-look at the indigenous Akash missiles developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The Indian Army had last year made it clear that it does not want the indigenous ‘Akash’ regiment apart from the two regiments ordered earlier for R14,180crore. Citing problems including infrastructural, requirement for 360-degree coverage and several vehicles for launchers, in deploying the Akash missiles against enemy air attacks in forward areas, the army was keen on buying globally.
“The Indian Air Force does not have similar problems as the Army and is set to induct four Israel developed SPYDER units, starting soon. It is also inducting 15 squadrons of Akash missile systems for R10,900 crore — meant to guard its airbases,” added sources.
Now, with the MoD planning to scrap the plan of procurement, the vendors are very upset and now questioning the credibility of the RfPs that are being issued by the MoD and then later being scrapped. A senior executive of one of the companies which had participated in the trials told FE, “A lot of money is invested in the whole process including responding to going into trials which are carried out in extreme hot/cold weather. The government, after going through all these procedures, suddenly scraps the RfP causing inconvenience as well as financial losses.”
The army has sent a request for information (RFI) for a new short range surface-to-air missile system to replace its Soviet-vintage OSA-AK (SA-8) and SA-6 units in 2010, and had sought information for a 20-km range missile system with active and passive guidance, with the capacity to engage targets moving up to 500 metres/second, and including hovering targets.