Army wants DRDO to provide missiles better than what is offered by foreign vendors. The missiles should be capable of taking down enemy fighter aircraft, drones, helicopters. DRDO is working hard to complete the missile system within the 48- month time
by Ajit Kumar Dubey
Looking to procure a quick reaction air defence system, the Indian Army wants the DRDO to provide missiles which are far better than what foreign vendors have offered it for the purpose of taking down enemy fighter aircraft, drones and helicopters.
The research agency has also responded positively and accepted the challenge to manufacture a world-class missile system.
The Indian Army is looking to acquire eight regiments of Quick Reaction-Surface to Air Missiles (QR-SAMs) for taking down targets at around 20 kilometres for the Army Air Defence and replace the Soviet-era OSA-AK air defence systems.
"The specifications given to the DRDO for development of the QR-SAM suggest that the Army wants the research agency to produce a better system than the ones offered by the foreign vendors," government sources told Mail Today.
As per the original plan, the foreign vendors were supposed to supply three regiments for meeting immediate operational requirements of the army, while the DRDO had to produce five regiments indigenously under the 'Make in India' program.
"There are specifications like the speed of the missile for which the DRDO has been asked to develop a system, which can move at the speed of 700-800 metre per second, while the requirement for foreign vendors is significantly less," sources added.
Similarly, the range and capability of the radar sought by the Army from the DRDO is significantly higher than what they want from foreign vendors, they said.
The DRDO has accepted the challenge to develop a world class air defence system and is working hard to complete the programme within the 48-month time. The project is scheduled to come up for discussion during a high-level meeting of the Defence ministry under defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman later this month.
A QR-SAM is different from normal air defence system, as the missiles are required to be mobile during operations involving tracking and targeting enemy aircraft or drones in case of an aerial threat.
The DRDO took up the program only recently, and it has already carried out two to three tests of the QR-SAM; and has assured the government for readying the missile system for user trials by the beginning of 2019. The foreign vendors looking to supply the QR-SAM missiles are from Israel and Russia.
The army has been insisting on going for immediate procurement from foreign vendors as it has been assured that the three regiments would be supplied within two years of signing the contract.
However, there has been a view from the DRDO that all the systems should be produced by them and its production agencies.
Mail Today had first reported that previous defence minister Arun Jaitley scrapped the Army programme of buying two short-range surface-to-air-missile regiments from foreign vendors in favour of the Aakash missiles, which helped the country save `34,000 crore worth of foreign currency from going out of the country.
In a number of other programm, the government has been favouring indigenous equipment over foreign ones to create jobs and promote 'Make in India'.
The missile system has the potential to engage multiple targets within a range of approximately 30 km, with the configuration of two vehicles for area air defence. The missile is being equipped for quick reaction and the system is all-weather enabled.
The missile is a truck-mounted one with 360 degree rotatable, electronic-mechanically operated, turret-based launch unit.
The air force has recently acquired the Israeli SPYDER QR-SAMS for protection against threats from Pakistan and China and started their deployment on the borders.