The Defence Ministry has officially cancelled the $ 500 million deal of Spike anti-tank missile with the Israeli company Rafael. Reports state that the deal was called-off to encourage local defence manufacturing.
India has, however, agreed to buy over 100 surface-to-air missiles, reportedly from the same company. It should be noted that there were speculations in the media that the Spike missile deal could be called off.
The Indian Army had expressed its interest to procure anti-tank missiles around 2010 and the process to acquire it had begun as early as 2011.
Last year in August, there were reports that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, in collaboration with Kalyani Strategic Systems, Hyderabad, would begin manufacturing these missiles in India. Later, there were talks that India would manufacture anti-tank missiles at home. In the meantime, India also successfully test fired indigenously developed Nag missiles in Rajasthan. It is not, however, known that cancellation of Spike deal has got anything to do with Nag being developed.
In 2011, India had two options - US made FGM-148 Javelin, proposed under a Government-to-Government (G2G) program via U.S. Foreign Military Sale (FMS), and the Spike MR, proposed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
Why India chose Spike?
Spike was chosen because Israel was willing to transfer technology and manufacture the missiles in India which gives a boost to government's 'Make in India' initiative. Rather than outright purchase of these missiles, India negotiated with Israel for technology transfer so that the missiles could be produced in India.
Spike missile system and its versions:
The Spike system is made up of the launching tripod with its fire control unit and the missile. Spike can be operated from the launcher by infantry, or from mounts that can be fitted to vehicles such as fast attack vehicles, armoured personnel carriers or utility vehicles.
Versions of Spike missile:
Spike-SR - The short-range version of the weapon was unveiled in 2012 and has a range of 1-1.5 kms.
Spike-MR - The medium range version which has a range of around 2.5 kms.
Spike-LR - The long-range version which has a range of around 5 kms. RAFAEL introduced new capabilities with Spike LR, extending the missile's range by 25 percent, to five kilometers. This improvement was achieved without changes to the missile's weight, dimensions or interfaces. The weapon uses a two-way fibre-optic data link to transfer the seeker's image from the missile to the operator while carrying target updates back to the weapon's guidance system.
Spike-ER - The extended range or extra-long range version of the weapon which has a range 8 kms.
Spike NLOS - The ultra-long-range version of the weapon with a claimed maximum range of up to 25 km. RAFAEL engineers are working on expanding the NLOS versatility, enhancing the existing EO-IR/CCD seeker with semi-active laser (SAL) capability.
The US made Javelin Missile:
Javelin is a fire-and-forget missile with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance. The system takes a top-attack flight profile against armoured vehicles (attacking the top armour, which is generally thinner), but can also take a direct-attack mode for use against buildings, targets inside the minimum top-attack engagement range, and targets under obstructions. The missile also has the ability to engage helicopters in the direct attack mode. It can reach a peak altitude of 150 m in top-attack mode and 60 m in direct-fire mode. It is equipped with an imaging infrared seeker. The tandem warhead is fitted with two shaped charges: a precursor warhead to detonate any explosive reactive armor and a primary warhead to penetrate base armor.