Defence Research and Development Organisation on Friday trashed reports based on a statement released by Israeli defence firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd stating that its Spike anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) was superior to an under-development DRDO weapon and the indigenous programme needed a rethink.
Reacting to the development, the DRDO tweeted, “A News item relating to Spike Missile testing at the Infantry school MHOW purportedly based on a press release is circulating incorrect facts. The DRDO ATGM is a state of art missile in advanced stages of development.” MHOW is short for the military headquarters of war.
Public relations consultancy Adfactors PR issued the statement on Thursday to announce the successful firing by the army of two newly acquired Spike long-range anti-tank missiles at the Infantry School at MHOW in Madhya Pradesh.
Two years ago, India was in advanced stages of negotiating the purchase of 321 launchers and 8,356 fire-and-forget missiles from the Israeli firm in a deal worth $500 million, but it abandoned the plan in favour of indigenous manufacturing.
A limited quantity of Spike missiles was ordered as a stopgap arrangement and the DRDO was asked to develop the ATGMs for the army’s infantry and mechanised infantry units to provide impetus to the ‘Make in India’ initiative, two army officials said.
The statement said that the Indian Army had been using outdated second-generation missiles for three decades and the Spike missile was the only one to qualify as a replacement for the existing inventory with the negotiations completed in 2016.
“…the Indian Army may need to revisit their plans for 3rd Gen missiles. Both the DRDO ATGM programme, and the invitation to Indian industry to develop a 3rd Gen missile will need a rethink, as having a 4th Gen missile will make the plan for development of a 3rd Gen missile questionable,” it said. A defence ministry spokesperson refused comment on the development.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has established a joint venture with the Kalyani Group in India to manufacture Spike missiles. It will look at export opportunities, the statement added.
Former northern army commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal (retd) said there was nothing wrong with Rafael’s claims as Spike is a proven and highly manoeuvrable weapon system. He said the DRDO was entitled to its own view but Spike and the indigenous ATGM don’t match weapon to weapon in terms of capability.