India on Saturday decided to buy 8,356 Spike anti-tank guided missile and 321 launchers from Israel for Rs 3,200 crore, rejecting US offer of Javelin missiles that Washington was lobbying hard for.
The decision was taken following a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, that lasted for over two hours with Defence Secretary, the Chiefs of all three services, DRDO Chief and other senior officials attending it.
They said the missiles would be brought to India in various stages and pieces.
This, the sources said, would be followed by transfer of technology (ToT) to defence PSU Bharat Dynamics Limited for large-scale manufacture.
Asked how much missles the Indian army needs to have to fully equip the Army’s 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised infantry units, sources put the figure at about 40,000.
Spike is a man-portable ‘fire and forget’ anti-tank missile that locks on to targets before shooting.
The Israeli missile trounced US’ Javelin weapons system, built by Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Company but sold to global customers through the US government under the Foreign Military Sales route.
The deal for the missile had been stuck since 2010.
The decision to purchase the Israeli missiles came just days after India and US, in principle, agreed to extend their defence agreement for another 10 years which will take forward the cooperation between the two countries in the crucial area.
The US has been pushing defence deals with India worth over Rs 20,000 crore, including the sale of Apache attack choppers, Chinook heavy lift helicopters and the Javelin anti-tank guided missiles.
To sweeten the deal, US had recently offer to co-produce and co-develop the missile. It had initially not agreed to provide critical technologies of the missile demanded by India and had also shown reluctance to make available the missiles for being evaluated by Indian experts in the field trials.
Army sources said the trial and staff evaluation of the Spike missile had been completed.
US has already sold equipment worth Rs 60,000 crore in the last 10 years to India but none of these weapon sales programme is about joint production or co-development and does not include transfer of technology.
India has raised the FDI cap in defence sector recently from 26 per cent to 49 per cent with the aim of boosting indigenous defence production.
India imports almost 70 per cent of its defence needs from foreign sources.