Army, Navy 'disappointed' as MoD defers crucial missile buys

Issue: 6 / 2013 November 12, 2013 By SP's Special Correspondent Photo(s): By Rafael

The Army and Navy, which had anticipated a tough decision at November 11's meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council, were left disappointed with sensitivities forcing Defence Minister AK Antony to err on the side of caution. The Army was expecting approval for a deal for Israeli-built SPIKE man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank and anti-personnel guided missiles with a tandem-charged HEAT warheads for as many as 356 infantry battalions. The deal with the SPIKE's maker, Rafael of Israel, is apparently contingent on the findings of an independent committee that has been mandated with looking into the feasibility of concluding deals with the company in the light of continuing CBI investigations into the Barak point defence missile deal. In fact, the DAC meeting on Monday was also supposed to consider a follow-on purchase of over 250 Barak-1 point defence missile systems for warships including the navy's sole aircraft carrier INS Viraat. The Navy has been concerned that the Barak system suffers from a shortage of munitions in the Indian fleet and that this could affect the overall capability intended. The LR-SAM or Barak-8/NG programme, a DRDO-Israel joint development programme intended to provide the navy with a Barak-1 replacement is nowhere close to operational service, though it will be a far more capable and longer range weapon once ready.