Asia Defense

India’s Army Approves ‘Emergency Purchase’ of 240 Israeli Anti-Tank Guided Missiles

The Indian Army approved the import of 240 Spike anti-tank missiles and 12 launchers earlier this month.

Franz-Stefan Gady
India’s Army Approves ‘Emergency Purchase’ of 240 Israeli Anti-Tank Guided Missiles
Credit: wikimedia commons/Dave1185

The Indian Army has approved the import of 240 Israeli-made Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Spike medium-range (MR) anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) and 12 launchers as part of an “emergency purchase” to meet immediate operational requirements, according to media reports.

The decision to procure the third-generation fire-and-forget weapon system with a tandem-charge high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead and an operational range of up to 4 kilometers was taken at the during the five-day biannual Army Commanders’ Conference in New Delhi that ended on April 13, official sources told IHS Jane’s this week.

Following the February 2019 military standoff between India and Pakistan following the Balakot airstrikes, the Indian Army’s vice chief of staff has been given authority to procure goods and materiel worth up to $72 million without prior approval from the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) under an emergency purchase provision.

According to Indian media reports, the Indian Army approved the purchase of 210 rather than 240 Spike missiles.

The Indian Army planned to conduct validation trials of the Spike MR ATGM in the summer of 2019 in India’s western Rajasthan desert region before making a final decision on the weapon systems’ procurement.

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In December 2017, the Indian government scrapped a $500 million deal with Rafael for 321 Spike ATGM launchers and 8,356 missiles in favor of an indigenous ATGM system currently under development by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). India’s MoD had originally selected the Spike ATGM over the U.S.-made FGM-148 Javelin ATGM system in October 2014.

As I reported last year:

The cancellation of the deal has led to severe disagreements between the Indian Army’s senior leadership and the DRDO, as the service remains deeply skeptical of the DRDO-developed man portable anti-tank guided missile (MPATGM). The Indian Army leadership has reportedly stated that it does not think that the MPATGM will meet the service’s operational requirements. It is also concerned about likely delays in the induction of the new weapon system. 

The DRDO successfully test fired the MPATGM at the Ahmednagar test range in the western Indian state of Maharashtra in September 2018. The weapon system has been under development by the DRDO in partnership with Indian defense contractor VEM Technologies Ltd. since 2015, with mass production slated to begin in 2021.

As I reported previously, the Indian Army asserts that it lacks 68,000 ATGMs of various types and around 850 launchers. The Army has reportedly been pushing for a fast-track procurement of 2,500 third-generation shoulder-fired ATGMs and 96 launchers through a government-government contract.

The Indian Defense Acquisition Council approved the procurement of 5,000 French-made second-generation MILAN ATGMs on January 31.