Seeking to cut down the import bill, the army has kicked started a process to order new anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) from the Indian industry, preferring the domestic route for over 2,000 missiles, a number that could grow exponentially given its requirements.
The third generation ATGM project, which will replace thousands of Milan and Konours missiles that are currently in service, is being looked at keenly by the private sector, with some companies in advanced stages of prototype development.
The army has asked Indian companies – both private and public sector players like Bharat Dynamics Limited – to submit their `expression of interest’ in the program, which will be followed by the tendering process, trials and evaluations and commercial negotiations.
Spelling out its requirements, the army has said that the present anti tank capabilities have been in service for more than three decades and there is a need to catch up with other armed forces across the world that have third generation missiles.
“These systems have better accuracy, enhanced lethality, a higher kill probability, day and night operation capability and ensure better survivability for the operating crew,” an army document on the requirement says, inviting Indian vendors to develop a prototype to offer for testing.
While there are a handful of Indian companies that claim to have the technology, the army is open to them having a foreign collaborator as long as there is a minimum of 40% indigenous content (IC) as the contract will be processed under the Indigenous Designed and Manufactured (IDDM) category.
The army has promised the industry an assured order of 101 launchers and 2330 missiles if the trials are successful but the potential orders in the coming decade could be ten times this number. For example, just last year the army cleared the purchase of 5,000 of the older generation Milan 2T missiles to replenish stocks.
To meet immediate needs, the army has placed an emergency order for third generation missiles on Israel’s Rafael. The order is for 210 missiles and a dozen launchers and is being processed on the fast track basis.
Indian companies like the Kalyani Group and VEM Technologies have already initiated work on the systems, with others like Solar Industries also in the reckoning. Not to be left behind, the state owned BDL, which has manufactured the Milan series of missiles in India, too is ready with an offering. BDL launched its ‘Amogha III’ ATGM at the just concluded DefExpo in Lucknow.