Israeli Spyder system emerges as frontrunner for Indian Army's air defence needs
The Israeli Spyder system has emerged as the frontrunner for an Army requirement for a fast reaction air defence cover against enemy aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. The Army's short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) programme, which was started in 2011, is nearing final selection that will lead to a contract valued at over Rs 18,000 crore.
Sources have told ET that the Spyder system — manufactured by Rafael Advanced Systems — is the frontrunner as its competitors from Sweden and Russia were not able to perform during technical trials carried out by the Indian Army that were concluded last year.
With both Rosoboronexport (Russia) and SAAB (Sweden) facing compliance issues, the Spyder missile system could go ahead for the next stage of procurement which is the opening of the price bid. The Spyder has already been ordered by the Indian Air Force and has been inducted to protect sensitive air fields along the border.
The Army's SRSAM project has, however, gone through several delays and hiccups and has been running for over five years now. The Army has separately ordered the Indian-made Akash SAM systems as well but these will be tasked mainly with protection of static or defensive units as they have limited mobility as well as a larger reaction time to an incoming attack.
While there is a push for additional Akash units for the Army from its public sector manufacturers, the SRSAM project is under a 'global buy' clause that would bring in work for the Indian private industry. The offsets involved in the project itself are valued at close to Rs 6,000 crore, which would be invested into joint ventures and production facilities in India. The Army requires at least two regiments of SRSAM that would include as many as 1,800 missiles. It also requires the winning company to transfer technology to India to manufacture the system.
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