NEW DELHI - The Indian Army has entered the global market to buy short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) systems for $1.5 billion, a move that could further undercut a four-year effort to develop a system with MBDA of France.
The Army convinced the Indian Defence Ministry there is an urgent requirement for SRSAM, said Army sources, and did not want to wait for the Maitri project conceived four years ago. India and France have not been able to agree on details of the Maitri project, including funding arrangements, the source added.
The Army last month sent global tenders to defense companies in Europe, the United States and Russia including Raytheon of the U.S., Israel's Rafael, MBDA and Thales of France, Diehl Defence of Germany, KBP Tula and Rosoboronexport of Russia, Ukraineexport of Ukraine and LIG NEX1 of South Korea.
The requirements of the SRSAM are similar to those of the proposed Indo-French Maitri project, the Army source said.
The current tender is for two regiments (36 systems, 1,000 missiles) estimated to cost about $800 million each. The total Indian Army requirement is likely to be about eight regiments in the next five to seven years.
The Maitri project was proposed to be jointly developed by India's Defence Research and Development Laboratory and MBDA.
The selected vendor will have to transfer technology of the systems, as well.
The supply will be made in two batches and completed within five years of the signing of the tender, including the launchers, sensors, vehicles for transportation and the missiles. The system must have a service life of at least 20 years and the missiles of not less than eight years.
The SRSAM system should be able to engage multiple targets, including those flying up to 500 meters per second, and have a maximum range of not less than 15 kilometers.
In 2009, India bought two regiments of Spyder quick-reaction surface-to-air missile systems from Rafael. Another Indo-Israeli joint project is the $2.5 billion long-range surface-to-air missile project signed in 2009 and expected to be inducted in 2013, Indian Defence Ministry sources said.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army has begun inducting the homemade medium-range Akash, which has a range of up to 30 kilometers. In 2011, the Indian Army ordered the induction of two Akash regiments at a cost of about $3 billion.
The Army also has been negotiating the purchase of David Sling and Iron Dome missile interceptor systems.