The Defence Acquisition Council under the Ministry of Defence is engaged in a debate over the issue of procurement of Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) for the Indian Army. The choice before them is between the Spike from the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defence Systems or the Javelin produced jointly by US companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.
Initially, it was only the Israeli company that had come forward with their offer in response to the Rs 9,300 crore tender for 8,400 missiles for the Indian Army. The Pentagon has offered the Javelin under the US Foreign Military Sales programme as well as co-manufacture the Javelin in India and partner the DRDO in co-developing an advanced version of the missile.
The Javelin, with a range of four kilometres, has been employed extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan and is regarded as the world’s premier man-portable ATGM. If the Javelin were superior to the Spike as US officials claim, it would also be more expensive. The Pentagon’s co-manufacture and co-development offer seeks to compensate for that higher cost. The Indian Army has also asked the DRDO to co-develop an ATGM with an international partner. Since defence procurement rules require the DRDO to select a partner through competitive bidding, US companies might have to compete with Rafael or other global vendors.