New Delhi. The Indian Army has successfully fired two newly acquired Spike LR anti-tank missiles at the Infantry School at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh. The firing was witnessed by the top Infantry hierarchy of the Indian Army, including Army Chief Bipin Rawatd, who were all at Mhow for the annual Infantry Commanders’ Conference.
For the last nearly three decades, the Indian Army had been using now outdated second generation missiles. The need to replace the inventory with 3rd Gen missiles was recognized nearly ten years back. In 2011, an RFP was floated for more than 8000 missiles with Transfer of Technology (ToT) to Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). The Spike missile was the only one to qualify after going through the complex labyrinth of the Indian procurement process, and the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) completed the negotiations in 2016. The programme, however, did not see the light of the day as the Government decided in favour of indigenous development by the DRDO.
Since then, while some development has been in progress in DRDO’s development programme, the delivery to the user is sometime away. To overcome this critical capability void, the Indian Army has procured a limited quantity of Spike LR missiles, so as to meet the urgent operational requirement. Manufactured by Israel’s Rafael, the Spike LRmissile is primarily a precision, Fire and Forget an anti-tank weapon, it can be fitted on tanks, helicopters, and vehicles and can also hit bunkers. It can be deployed n both the palins and hilly terrain.
The Government’s decision to acquire it followed the Pulwama attack by Pakistani terrorists, and it was made known ar the Army Commanders Conference in April.
India is the 33rd country to have the Spike missile from Israel’s Rafael.
Spike LR is a 4th Gen missile, which can engage a target with precision at ranges up to 4km. In addition to fire and forget capability, the missile also has the ability to fire, observe and update, providing substantial flexibility to the firer to pinpoint the impact point, as also the ability to switch to a different target mid-flight, if required in the changing dynamics of a battle. It gives the firer the flexibility to use any of the two modes: Day (CCD) and Night (IIR).
The dual seeker adds to the missile’s reliability, already established at more than 90% during the field evaluation by the Indian Army in 2011. As of date, more than 5000 Spike missiles have been fired so far worldwide, with the overall hit percentage being more than 95%. The firer also has the option to fire from either low or high trajectory.
Since the induction and training, this was the first time that soldiers from the Indian Army carried out practice firing of the missile. The confidence of the firers in the missile was such that difficult firing scenarios were deliberately selected. This included firing into the sun with CCD, and firing with IIR without any heating of the target, using only the ambient temperature difference. All missiles successfully engaged the target.
Interestingly, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the highly successful military technology company from Israel, has established a joint venture with the Pune-based Kalyani Group to produce missiles in India in accordance with requirements of the Indian forces, and also to export from here in line with the Government’s Make in India poliicy.
Source: India Strategic
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