A salacious war of words has broken out between Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and an Israeli firm over Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) which was recently supplied to the Indian Army.
It all started when Israeli Rafael Advanced Systems compared the Spike ATGM with a forthcoming project being developed by the Indian DRDO.
Rafael had earlier won a Rs 3,200 crore Army tender for 8,356 Spike missiles, 321 launchers and 15 simulators. However, in 2017, the order was cancelled after DRDO said it could supply an indigenous replacement.
The Indian Army, which has been seeking the next generation of ‘fire-and-forget’ ATGMs instead only ordered just 210 Spike missiles worth Rs 280 crore upon the recommendation of the DRDO.
Rafael published a statement, through its PR agency, declaring the test-firing of two newly-acquired Spike LR anti-tank missiles at the Infantry School in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh.
In the statement, Rafael also hit out at the DRDO’s ATGM programme, declaring “while there seems to have been some progress on the DRDO development programme, it will take a long time for it to reach the user in the field”. The statement read that the Indian Army must reconsider its order for third-generation missiles from the DRDO, while its system is fourth-generation.
Both the DRDO ATGM programme, as well as the invitation to Indian industry to develop a 3rd Gen missile will need a rethink, as having a 4th Gen missile will put the plan for development of a 3rd Gen missile questionable,” the Israeli firm stated.
An agitated DRDO responding to the PR statement by tweeting that the DRDO ATGM is a state-of-the-art missile in the advanced stages of development.
A News item relating to Spike Missile testing at the Infantry school MHOW purportedly based on a press release is circulating incorrect facts. The DRDO ATGM is a state of art missile in advanced stages of development.
— DRDO (@DRDO_India) November 29, 2019
The Tweet Read – A News item relating to Spike Missile testing at the Infantry school MHOW purportedly based on a press release is circulating incorrect facts. The DRDO ATGM is a state of art missile in advanced stages of development.
The Israeli firm explained why its ATGM was better than what the DRDO is developing. “Spike LR is a 4th Gen missile, which (has) fire and forget capability (that does not require the firer to keep the enemy tank in his cross hairs until impact). The missile also has the ability to… switch to a different target mid-flight, should he want to do so.”
Rafael explained that Spike LR’s inbuilt seeker allows the firer to engage tanks by both day and night. “The dual seeker adds to the missile’s reliability, already established at more than 90 per cent 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 per cent”, claimed Rafael.