New Delhi: India is set to place an order for Israeli ‘Spike’ missiles in a bid to boost its anti-tank capability against arch rival Pakistan, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
The Indian Army wants to buy the Spike missile as a “stop gap" measure before the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) can come up with an indigenous anti-tank missile of its own within the next three years.
The purchase proposal is at an advanced stage and is awaiting Indian government approval, the person said, without giving any details. They asked not to be identified as the information is not yet public.
The order for the anti-tank guided missile, made by Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., could be placed this year to meet the army’s urgent requirements, the person said.
A Rafael spokesman in Israel confirmed that a potential deal is under discussion, but wouldn’t comment further until something is signed.
After a long procurement process, India terminated its plan to buy $500-million worth of Spike missiles in January 2018.
The decision came just ahead of a visit to New Delhi by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who raised the cancellation with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during bilateral talks. Netanyahu later told reporters the deal was back on.
India abandoned the contract after the DRDO promised to deliver an indigenous anti-tank missile to meet the Army requirement of over 8,000 anti-tank missiles.
The DRDO has promised to deliver the India-made missile for trials by the end of 2018. Once the trials are successful, the Indian anti-tank missile would go in for mass production by 2021.