India Presses Israel on Joint Missile Project
Jan. 28, 2013 - 07:25AM By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI
NEW DELHI — The Indian government has asked Israel to speed up development
of its joint medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) project, which has
faced technical snags since its inception in 2009.
MRSAM topped the agenda when Air Chief Marshal N.K. Browne, commander of the
Indian Air Force, visited Israel last week, Ministry of Defence sources said
During his Jan. 21-23 visit, Browne was scheduled to meet with Israeli
Defence Minister Ehud Barak; Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, chief of the General
Staff; Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, commander of the Israeli Air Force; and Rear
Adm. Ophir Shohaim, director of the Directorate for Defense Research and
Browne also discussed with the Israelis air-to-air missiles and
precision-guided munitions that India might want to acquire.
The MRSAM, a joint weapon development project being undertaken by India’s
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), along with Israel
Aerospace Industries (IAI), seeks to deliver at least 18 firing units along
with related systems at a cost of more than $2 billion. Each firing unit has
16 missiles. India also hopes the system can be used by the Indian Army, but
that remains unclear, the sources said.
The MRSAM prototype failed its first test, held late last year, Defence
Ministry sources said, but they provided no details. Development is being
carried out under secrecy here.
MRSAM is intended to intercept enemy missiles at a range of 70 kilometers.
It carries an active radar seeker and a bidirectional data link for
midcourse guidance and kill assessment, an Indian Air Force official said.
It will also be equipped with an advanced rotating phased array radar to
provide a high-quality air situation picture.
The Indian Army also has a requirement for an unspecified number of MRSAMs
to move with mechanized forces and provide organic mobile air defense
protection. The Army requirement of MRSAM is also worth more than $2
Defence Ministry sources said that in addition to discussions on MRSAM,
Browne reviewed information from the Israelis on air-to-air missiles and
precision-guided munitions that India could acquire.
The Air Force already has purchased 18 Spyder surface-to-air missile systems
from Israeli company Rafael to protect high-value assets following the
failure of India’s homegrown Quick Reaction System, the Trishul, after
nearly 15 years of development.
Last year, the Air Force bought the Israeli Derby medium-range active radar
seeker air-to-air missile, made by Rafael, to be mounted on the homemade
Light Combat Aircraft, which the DRDO is developing. Earlier, the Air Force
had purchased Israeli Python-5 air-to-air missile systems.
Israel also has helped Indian scientists develop the homemade Prithvi air
defense ballistic missile system. Though no formal agreement has been
signed, DRDO and Israel are developing India’s land attack missile project,
including a land attack cruise missile.