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India drops plan to buy Israeli Spike anti-tank missiles

21 November 2017

India's 2014 deal to purchase Spike anti-tank missiles from Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has been overturned, The Indian Express reported.

The Spike MR missile is a 3rd generation, fire and forget, top attack, ATGM with an operational range of 2.5 km and is capable of being used both during the day and night. It is versatile since the missile independently tracks the target upon being fired. Now, however, in a strong endorsement of the Modi's "Make In India" initiative, New Delhi has made a decision to back the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which says it can deliver a world-class missile within four years.

An Indian source, described as familiar with the details of the agreement said: "Under the deal, Israel has pledged to set up a local assembly plant to create work in India".

In anticipation of this deal, Rafael had entered into a joint venture with Kalyani group for missile production in India. Instead, India's Defence Research and Development Organisation reportedly plans to develop and produce its own anti-tank missile domestically.

The Indian military, which now uses an inferior anti-tank missile that does not work well at night, reportedly expressed concerns that the decision to scrap the Spike deal would negatively affect its preparedness, and that there was "operational urgency" for the Israeli missile.

According to a report in NDTV, the Indian army has criticised the defence ministry's decision because locally-made rockets would take long time to be developed, leaving the soldiers badly out-gunned by Pakistani forces.

India is Israel's 10th-largest trade partner worldwide and its second-largest trade partner in Asia.

Israel and India enjoy the sharing of technological developments, and India is one of Israel's biggest clients in the defense technology market. Last year, an experts' committee appointed by the defense ministry had recommended development of an indigenous missile system, acting on which the DRDO had expedited the development trials of the Nag-anti tank missile systems. According to the source, the deal was about to be signed, but was halted due to increased pressure from local defense industries.

India drops plan to buy Israeli Spike anti-tank missiles