SP's LandForces - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

End­ing a pro­cure­ment ef­fort that has me­an­dered for years, In­dia will shortly sign a $525 mil­lion deal with Is­rael’s Rafael Ad­vanced De­fense Sys­tems Ltd. to pro­cure 8,300 Spike MR mis­siles and over 300 launch­ers. The Spike MR is a light-weight third-gen­er­a­tion, man-por­ta­ble mis­sile sys­tem, spe­cially de­signed for medium-range anti-tank op­er­a­tions, ur­ban war­fare, tra­di­tional war­fare, ground support and spe­cial mis­sions. The weapon sys­tem op­er­ates in fire and for­get mode for au­ton­o­mous and medium range tar­get en­gage­ment of up to 2.5 km. Ac­cord­ing to Rafael, “Its Fire and For­get op­er­a­tional mode guar­an­tees max­i­mum gun­ner sur­viv­abil­ity and high hit prob­a­bil­ity. The Spike MR has an op­tional Fire, Ob­serve and Up­date mode of op­er­a­tion for the mod­ern, multi-faceted bat­tle.” Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial NATO lit­er­a­ture on the Spike, “The mis­siles in this fam­ily have so­phis­ti­cated elec­tro-op­tic CCD or IR sen­sors for op­er­a­tion day and night and in ad­verse weather con­di­tions cou­pled with a tan­dem war­head. Their lofted tra­jec­to­ries en­able the war­head to hit the tar­get at its most vul­ner­a­ble part with pin­point pre­ci­sion. Sport­ing a shelf life of 20 years, the mis­sile in its can­nis­ter weighs 13 kg, the fir­ing post weighs 9 kg, the bat­tery 1 kg and the tri­pod 3 kg, mak­ing the over­all sys­tem weigh 25 kg. Rafael says the Spike sys­tem also boasts of high sur­viv­abil­ity, pin­point ac­cu­racy, op­er­a­tional flex­i­bil­ity, and im­por­tantly for the In­dian Army, low own­er­ship cost.

For the in­fantry and spe­cial forces units, the green sig­nal for the deal is a mas­sive re­lief. How­ever, the pur­chase of the Spike does not cover In­dia’s to­tal re­quire­ment, which will run into many thou­sands of more mis­siles and launch­ers, in­clud­ing pos­si­bly the ex­tended range vari­ants of the Spike. It is also not clear if the Spike deal means that the next lot of mis­siles will be another com­pet­i­tive bid— sim­i­larly pro­tracted to the one that has just ended in a decision.

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