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Systems is developing a Bofors-designed FH77 BW Archer hybrid that
replaces the original automatic loading system with a manual one. In a
requirement that dates back a decade, an RFI for a tracked SPH was reissued
with submissions due 25 December 2009. BAE Systems is now awaiting an
RFP, hoping the M109 will be a good match.
AIR DEFENCE AND MISSILES
One area in which the Indian Army is sorely lacking is air defence (AD).
Existing systems like the tracked ZSU-23 -4 Shilka are obsolete, and the
OSA-AK (SA-8b Gecko) is fast going the same way. India is pursuing a
dual-track system of upgrading some systems and replacing others, with
Russia obviously feeling confident of selling its newer AD systems. India still
operates 600+ L-70 40mm antiaircraft guns that will soon see their fiftieth
anniversary. As a touted L-70 replacement, Tata combined with Rheinmetall
to offer the truck-mounted Oerlikon Contraves 35mm Skyshield. However,
this bid must be re-tendered since Rheinmetall was the sole vendor.
As an interim measure, India adopted Rafael’s short-range Spyder
mobile AD system that will serve for perhaps 10-15 years. In the meantime
this gives foreign companies the opportunity to market their AD missile
products, especially with new threats like Pakistani JF-17 and Chinese J-10
fighters to contend with. Mati Hindrekus, Marketing Communications
Manager of MBDA, said the future of his company in India rests on the
SR-SAM, a system that meets the AD requirements of all three military
branches. The SR-SAM is being jointly developed by MBDA and DRDO as a
successor to the Trishul, and Mati Hindrekus revealed a contract for the SR-
SAM“would kick-start MBDA’s local involvement and help it to become a
real permanent force in India.”
In addition to SAM systems already in service, in late January 2010
the government issued an RFI for additional quick-reaction SAMs (QR-
SAM) with a minimum range of 9km and capable of dual missile firing.
Contenders include the Raytheon SL-AMRAAM and Hawk XXI, Rafael
Spyder and Tor M-1 from Russia. Thales was also proffering the Mach 3.5-
India’s military budget expansion has given rise to lucrative
opportunities that have foreign companies salivating and queuing up
to forge alliances with local Indian industrial partners. Although India
is a traditional buyer of Russian merchandise, warming relations with
the USA are presenting new opportunities for American companies.
Despite the frustrations of Indian red tape, and despite uncertainties
in competitive bidding processes, foreign companies are eager to do
business with India. The rewards in such an important market are just
too great to ignore...and everyone knows it.
In terms of medium-range SAMs, the Russian 2K12E Kvadrat is the
incumbent, but at 30 years old it needs replacement. Global options include
the BUK-M1, MBDA Aster 30 and MICA, and Patriot PAC-2/PAC-3. However,
the Barak-8 medium-range SAM from Rafael/Israel Aerospace Industries
(IAI) has already got a head-start. The joint Indo-Israeli Barak-8 project to
equip army and naval forces with a potent AD missile system will eventually
surpass the BrahMos programme in size. The land-based version, the MR-
SAM, dovetails with the Barak-8 programme. The two countries inked a
USD1.1 billion deal in November 2009, with first deliveries due in 2017.
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is a success story in Indian-
Russian cooperation. Thus far, two regiments of truck-mounted 290km-
range BrahMos missiles have entered service. The newly raised Strategic
Forces Command is responsible for India’s nuclear-missile arsenal. The
Agni-II, an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), failed its first
night-firing test on 22 November 2009. Meanwhile, the 3,500km-range
Agni-III IRBM that gives strategic deterrence value to India’s neighbours,
successfully underwent its third test on 7 February 2010.
The army’s aviation fleet relies on ancient Chetak and Cheetah helicopters,
although the indigenous Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Dhruv
is appearing in limited numbers. MBDA has already delivered ATAM
launchers and air-to-air Mistral missiles for integration on the Dhruv. To
rejuvenate the rotary-winged fleet, India plans to acquire 197 light utility
helicopters (LUH), with 133 going to the army and the remainder to the
IAF. An earlier competition was mired in controversy after the contract
awarded to Eurocopter was suddenly cancelled. Rainer Farid, the Regional
Sales Director South Asia of Eurocopter, revealed this cancellation was due
to Indian procurement procedures after Eurocopter’s military demonstration
helicopter was not available in time. In the re-run RFP for the LUH
requirement, Eurocopter will again offer its AS550 C3 Fennec. Field trials
will conclude this summer with a decision due early in 2011. An RFP for
22 attack helicopters came out last year, and the army’s heavy-lift capacity
must also be improved for both mountain and plain operations.
In the UAV sector, some Israeli Heron, Searcher-1 and Searcher-2 craft
have entered service. The army is now shopping for a mini-UAV for use at
the unit level. Meanwhile, IAI is helping DRDO develop Rustam medium-
altitude, Pawan short-range and Gagan tactical UAVs. Larger domestic UAV
designs like the Nishant are also in the pipeline.
DRDO was working on two surface-to-air missile
(SAM) systems – Trishul and Akash – but with the
former scrapped and the latter delayed, India has
serious deficiencies in its SAM arsenal.
The Akash AD missile system is another product from DRDO that has been beset by chronic
delays. (Gordon Arthur)
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