India is concerned over the “very high price” of the American missile shield it wants to use to protect the national capital against the threat of 9/11-type attacks by enemy aircraft, cruise missiles and drones.
The American government had last week approved the Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) for around USD 1.9 billion including different types of radars and missiles systems on the request of the Indian Air Force under a government-to-government Foreign Military Sales request.
“The project has been approved by the Americans at around USD 1.9 billion which is almost double the price at which we were anticipating it to be. We are concerned over the high cost of acquisition and we may have to look at other options also,” government sources told ANI here.
India had expressed interest in buying the system to replace the existing Russian systems which have been deployed for many years now for protecting the possible targets including VVIPs in New Delhi as part of Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) Delhi Area Defence project.
Sources said the issue is expected to come up for discussion with the American side during the visit of US President Donald Trump who is visiting Ahmedabad and New Delhi on February 24-25.
Sources said the high cost of the American weapon systems in a cause of concern in other projects too like the acquisition of 30 Predator drones which will cost more than USD 100 million each with options of being used in a weaponised version as well as the reconnaissance roles.
The approval by the Americans for the NASAMS missile shield includes five AN/MPQ-64Fl Sentinel radar systems, Fire Distribution Centers (FDC), Electrical Optical/Infrared sensor systems, and Multi-spectral Targeting System-Model A (MTS-A).
It also includes 118 AMRAAM AIM-120C-7/C-8 missiles, three AMRAAM Guidance Sections, four AMRAAM Control Sections, and 134 Stinger FIM-92L missiles, along with Dual Mount Stinger Air Defence Systems and Vehicle Mounted Stinger Rapid Ranger Air Defence Systems, canister launchers and high mobility launchers.
In 2018, when an Indian team had visited Washington DC, they were not allowed to witness the functioning of the NASAMS systems as it was deployed in the middle of an American Army base.
India and the US would now discuss the cost of the missile defence system during the contract negotiations between the two governments.
The Defence Acquisition Council has also approved the cost of the project around USD one billion in July 2018.
During the Trump visit, India and the US are likely to take forward their deals on the acquisition of 24 multirole helicopters for the Indian Navy and six Apache attack choppers for the Army.