NEW DELHI: India this week junked a potential $500 million contract with Israel to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles even as Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman signed off on another contract to buy 130 projectiles to arm an aircraft carrier.
The anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) are made by Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Surprisingly, the announcement of the cancellation of the contract for the ATGMs, on the cards for months now, was made by Rafael on Wednesday, a fortnight before the scheduled visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“It should be emphasised that the cancellation was made prior to the signing of the contract and despite Rafael’s compliance with all the demands,” the company said in a statement.
“Rafael regrets the decision and remains committed to cooperating with the Indian Ministry of Defence and to its strategy of continuing to work in India, an important market,” it added.
Rafael won the deal in 2015, after India picked the Spike missile over the US’ Javelin missiles, built by Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co.
Barak missiles are also made by Rafael. Two variants of Barak missiles arm Indian warships. The 130 Barak I missiles, a follow-on order to an earlier contract, are estimated to cost $70 million.