NEW DELHI: The Army is likely to go for Israeli quick-reaction surface-to-air missiles (QR-SAMs) to take on enemy fighters, helicopters and drones after firmly rejecting any further induction of the much-touted indigenous Akash missiles.
Defence ministry sources said the Army has made it clear that it does not want any more Akash regiments after it gets the first two ordered earlier for Rs 14,180 crore, with six firing batteries and hundreds of missiles each.
This marks a major blow to the ‘Make in India’ policy, especially since the Navy is turning to France for similar requirements after dumping the Akash missiles for its warships due to “stabilisation problems”.
“The Army holds Akash area defence missile systems do not meet its operational requirements for defending its strike corps against enemy air attacks in forward areas. Instead, it wants the global route for procurement of four QR-SAM regiments,” said a source.
While missile systems from Israel, Russia and Sweden have undergone extensive field trials conducted by the Army, sources said the Israeli Spyder QR-SAMs has virtually emerged the winner in the race.
IAF, incidentally, is already on course to induct four Spyder units from February 2017 onwards. But the force is also progressively inducting 15 Akash missile squadrons, worth around Rs 10,900 crore, six of which are meant for the northeast to counter China’s build-up of military infrastructure across the Line of Actual Control, as earlier reported by TOI.
But the Army contends IAF is inducting Akash squadrons to guard its airbases that are located in “depth areas” inside the country, while it wants QR-SAMs to defend its formations in the “forward tactical battlefield area”.
“Neither does Akash have the requisite 360 degree coverage, nor the 3-4 second reaction time the Army wants. Moreover, Akash has a large radar ground signature with several vehicles required for its missile launchers, multi-function radars and the like,” said a source.
With an interception range of around 25 km in all weather conditions, Akash is the first advanced tactical (non-nuclear) missile to be made almost fully indigenously. Both the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile developed with Russia as well as the Barak SAM systems with Israel have an import content of 60-65%.