In a bid to match China, the Indian Army is scouting for third-generation Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) worth over `5,000 crore for its infantry and mechanised units.
The ATGM is an effective weapon in terrains where there are threats from enemy tanks and the Army’s initial requirement is about 2,000 launchers and 24,000 missiles to arm its 356 infantry units.
China already possesses ‘Green Arrow’ and ‘Red Arrow’ ATGMs. Pakistan, though, has only second-generation missiles such as the Baktar Shikan, said to be based on a Chinese missile, and the French Eryx.
“This procurement will be completed by the end of the 12th plan period in 2017,” Army sources told Express here. Though the Army is authorised to hold over 81,000 ATGMs of different ranges that are key to stopping the progress of enemy’s armoured vehicles and tanks during battles, it is said to have only half of that quantity at present, making this procurement critical.
It has now tried out the shoulder-fired Israeli ‘Spike’ missiles in the field and the ‘staff evaluation’ of the trial report is underway. India tested the 2.5-km-range Israeli system despite the US offering its FGM-148 Javelin missiles.
The Israeli offer is said to be ahead in the race due to their readiness to share its technology with the Indian government-owned missile manufacturer, the Hyderabad-based Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), to produce them domestically to meet the Army’s future needs. The US is willing to sell the missile to India, but not to share the technology.
At present, the Army has French two-km-range Milan missiles and Russian four-km Konkurs missiles, both second generation ATGMS. Both are Semi Automatic Command Line of Sight wire-guided missiles that require the soldier to sight the target and guide the weapon, which affects accuracy.
“Now, the Army wants to graduate to third-generation missiles that can lock on to the target once the soldier sights it through the weapon system,” an Army officer said.
“Once the infantry units are equipped with the third-generation ATGMs, we will also equip the 50-odd Mechanised Infantry units with the selected weapon system,” he said.