Army Progressing Indigenous Shoulder-Fired Missile Projects

Indian Army

New Delhi: Amid shortages in the inventory of shoulder-fired missiles to tackle aerial threats on borders with China and Pakistan, the Indian Army is progressing two cases worth over Rs 6,800 Crores for developing Very Short Range Air Defence Systems indigenously. The Army has plans of developing and buying over 500 launchers and around 3,000 missiles from indigenous routes.

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At the same time, the Indian Army along with the other stakeholders is looking at the possibility of an old tender scrapped earlier in which the Russian Igla-S was selected in view of the delays for finding replacement for the old Igla-1M missiles.

Defence Ministry officials said the current VSHORAD missiles in the inventory of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force are all with Infra-Red homing guidance systems and the Igla 1M VSHORAD missile system was inducted in 1989 and was planned for de-induction in 2013.

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“At present, there is a Rs 4,800 crore project in which a public sector unit headquartered in Hyderabad and a private sector Pune-based firm have been engaged for developing a laser beam riding VSHORADS which would be used by the forces to protect the borders to provide protection from enemy drones, fighter aircraft and choppers,” defence forces’ officials said.

The project would be for developing 200 launchers and 1,200 missiles for supplying to the Indian Army and Air Force and the lead in the project is the Indian Army which is the biggest user of these missiles, they said.

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Of the 1,200 missiles planned to be inducted in the project, it is likely to get 700 while the remaining would be for the IAF. The two firms have to produce the prototype of the system under the Indian Designed, Developed and Manufactured clause of the Defence Acquisition Procedure, they said.

However, industry sources informed that the progress made in this program has not been very encouraging. Another program that is being progressed is the Design and Development project being carried out by the DRDO for making an infra-red homing-based VSHORADS. The DRDO is working with two of its Development cum Production Partners Adani Defence and I-Comm for producing Laser Beam Riding VSHORADS.

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The DRDO has tested the system based on a tripod and they are now expected to miniaturise the system for making it a shoulder-fired weapon system, the officials said.

In the meanwhile, the Indian Army and the Air Force used the Emergency Procurement powers to buy around 96 launchers of the Russian Igla of which 48 have already arrived as part of the first tranche of the orders given in EP-1 while 48 are expected to be delivered in near future.

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In this meanwhile, there is also a suggestion to revive the contract which was scrapped almost over five years ago in which the Russian side had emerged as the lowest bidder with its Igla-S system on offer. The stakeholders in the project are expected to meet soon to find out ways of carrying out the project under ‘Make in India’. The project scrapped by the Defence Ministry was expected to be worth around Rs 4,800 crore.

The importance and the versatility of VSHORAD missiles have been regularly proved in battle including the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict, Defence Ministry officials stated. The Indian forces have been progressing the cases for replacing their old VSHORADS system.