Lance turret firing SPIKE LR Missle.
(photo credit: RAFAEL ADVANCED DEFENSE SYSTEMS)
The Indian Army has approved the “emergency purchase” of 240 Spike anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) made by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense System to meet immediate operational requirements, Indian media have reported.
The decision to procure the 240 ATGMs and 12 launchers was reportedly made during the five-day biannual Army Commanders’ Conference in New Delhi that ended on April 13, an IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly report quoted sources as saying.
According to the report, the procurement followed an emergency provision that gave the Indian Army vice chief of staff the authorization to purchase goods and material worth up to $72 million without having to get prior approval from the Defense Ministry.
Rafael had no comment on the reports. India’s Financial Times reported that the Indian Army was given the green light to purchase the Israeli ATGMs after the February 2019 military standoff between India and Pakistan following airstrikes in Balakot.
The Indian Air Force struck at terrorists based in Pakistan on February 26 using Israeli-developed SPICE (smart, precise impact, cost-effective) kit for bombs, according to Indian media. According to the FlightGlobal news website, the 1,000 precision-guided bombs were used on the India Air Force’s 36 Dassault Rafale jet fighters and Tejas jets.
Israel has been supplying India with various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years. Until recently, the transactions were kept quiet. But as ties have quietly improved, the east Asian giant has become one of the largest purchasers of Israeli military hardware with annual defense deals topping $1 billion.
In December 2017, New Delhi scrapped a 2011 $500-million deal with Rafael to purchase 8,000 Spike missiles and over 300 launchers due to a dispute between the Defense Ministry and India’s Defense Research and Development Organization.
The Spike missile, capable of penetrating one meter of armor, can be operated in either “direct attack or mid-course navigation based on target coordinates only,” according to Rafael, enabling defeat of long-range hidden targets with pinpoint precision, damage assessment and real-time intelligence.
The missiles – which can be fired from vehicles, helicopters, ships and ground launchers – feature advanced optical seekers, smart target trackers and various artificial intelligence features.
Rafael has supplied more than 27,000 Spike missiles and systems to over 26 countries, including to the Philippines, Lithuania, Australia and India, where they are used by armies on various naval and land system platforms.
Seth Frantzman contributed to this report.
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