Written byRamya Patelkhana ·
Indian Army is reportedly facing "critical operational deficiency"; it is short of 68,000 anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and 850 launchers of different varieties.
Raising the alarm, it asked the government for "emergency induction" of at least some anti-tank weapons until the DRDO's indigenous man-portable ATGMs are ready.
These tank-fighters are crucial for stopping enemy tanks, especially along the active LoC with Pakistan.
Worried about the anti-tank weapon shortage, the Army is even ready to procure 2,500 shoulder-fired ATGMs and 96 launchers on "fast-track" mode without transfer of technology (ToT) as an "interim measure" through a government-to-government route, said sources.
"It has been left to the government whether it should be the Israeli Spike ATGM or the FGM-148 Javelin ATGM from the US," stated a source.
The development comes against the backdrop of the government's cancellation of the proposed Rs. 3,200cr contract for 8,356 medium-range Spike ATGMs, 321 launchers, and 15 simulators with Israel in 2017. The procurement project was accorded "acceptance of necessity" by the Defense Ministry in June 2009.
The main reason behind India scrapping the Spike deal was reportedly DRDO's "contention" that it could build more technologically-advanced, man-portable ATGM systems in two years.
The project also proposed transfer-of-technology from Israel's Rafael to the state-run Bharat Dynamics Limited for large-scale production of weapons.
During his visit to India in Jan'18, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, however, said the Spike deal "was back on track".
Though Israeli PM Netanyahu said the Spike deal is back on, sources say: "There is stiff resistance from the DRDO. If the government places an order for ATGMs from abroad, it can be accused of promoting foreign suppliers at the cost of the DRDO."
Meanwhile, the Army is worried about a critical "60% shortage" in its "authorized holding" of anti-tank missiles. It currently has "nil" war wastage reserves (stock in reserve for war).
The existing second-generation Milan-2T (2km-range) and Konkurs (4km-range) wire-guided ATGMs lack night-fighting capabilities. They were produced by BDL under French and Russian licenses.
Army needs upgraded third-generation ATGMs, which are top-attack, fire-and-forget, and night-capable.
"The DRDO has been seeking extensions since 2013 to successfully demonstrate the performance of its man-portable ATGM," said one of the sources.
Meanwhile, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has also asserted that bridging the "operational gap" between 2018 and 2021-22 (when DRDO's man-portable ATGMs would be ready if trials in mid-2018 are finally successful) needs to be a top priority.
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