Delhi. India has signed an agreement with Israel
to acquire 18 Spyder Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs)
to protect high-value assets of the Indian Air
The plans to acquire the Spyder had been announced
in 2006 but were on hold due to allegations of
corruption over the Israeli Barak missiles deal
for the Indian Navy signed four years ago. But
as neither the IAF nor the Navy and Army have
adequate missile defence protection, the government
has been under pressure to do the needful for
The Spyder deal was signed on 1st September
with Rafael and Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI).
There was no formal announcement but sources indicated
that the delivery schedule should be within two
to three years.
Spyder is a static low level, quick reaction
missile (LLQRM) to neutralize hostile targets
up to 15 km away, and at heights between 20 to
9000 meters. The Indian Air Force will also acquire
the indigenous Akash Surface to Air Missile which
has a little longer effective range of 25 km as
part of a layered approach to defend its assets.
Both the Spyder and Akash are all weather missiles,
24 x 7 and 360 degrees with autonomous management
and advanced Electronic Counter Counter Measures
(ECCM) capability. It can be launched within five
seconds, and once the commander has pressed the
button, the process to seek and engage an aggressive
aircraft or missile is automatic.
The Spyder consists of the Python 5 IR guided,
and Derby RF guided Beyond Visual Range (BVR)
missiles, both with Lock-on Before Launch (LOBL)
and Lock-on After Launch (LOAL) modes, for faster
response time and improved engagement flexibility.
Besides aircraft and UAVs, they can also neutralize
low-level cruise missiles.
Each Spyder unit has four missiles in ready
to fire launch containers for multi-target engagement,
and up to six of these units can be deployed around
one asset and under one commander.
The air force had sent a Request for Proposals
(RfP) mid-2005 to Russia, France, South Africa,
Switzerland, Israel, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
The Spyder was finally chosen after field trials
of various missiles. It may be noted that the
political leadership in 1990 had put a virtual
block on all military purchase programmes, and
there was no periodic replacement or upgradation
of equipment for several years. The Indian Army,
Navy and Air Force had been conserving the Soviet
vintage weapons till 1999, when Pakistani occupation
of territories on the Indian side of the border
led to a war, and the routine replacement and
acquisition process restarted.
The three services have been pointing out that
their major assets, from airbases and ships to
command headquarters, would be nearly naked
if there was an aggression and that a missile
defence cover was required without any more delay.
All of them are now in various stages of acquiring
defensive missiles with different ranges and capabilities,
but it would be a few years say 3 to 5
for them to really an effective capability.
Meanwhile, the US ams technology major Raytheon
has let it be known that it is offering its famed
Patriot missile to the Indian Army in an international
bid for Medium Range (MR) missiles with
a range of 60 km. The tenders for the RfP in this
regard are due for submission in October.
Notably, the Indian armed forces are loaded
with Soviet-vintage defensive systems like Pechora,
IGLA and OSA-AK, and the top brass from the Army,
Navy and Air Force has been asking for their replacement
for years. A version of the Spyder is also being
considered by the Indian Army, while the government
is giving the go-ahead for collaboration with
the Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael
to manufacture an advanced MR version of the Barak
in India, with a range of up to 70 km for precision
engagement of hostile aircraft.
Reports are that the Indian government has already
sanctioned $ 2.5 billion in this regard for the
missiles manufacture in India under Transfer
of Technology (ToT).
Indias Defence Research and Development
Organisation (DRDO), which acquired an advanced
Greenpine radars computer hardware from
Israel some years ago, will be the nodal agency
in this project. But then, the manufacturing and
integration could be shared by both the public
sector and private sector industries.
Once the project gets going, there are plans
also for longer range versions of the missiles,
moving in stages to 120 and 350 km.
Precision engagement capability, remote or autonomous
guidance, everything is being worked out and the
Israelis, with their mastery in electronics, are
literally promising the moon.