12:00 AM, November 29, 2012
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In an on-going race between Israel and the U.S to supply third generation anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) to the Indian Army in a project worth $1 billion, Tel Aviv might have an upper hand. According to reports, India may be leaning towards the likes of Israel’s Spike missile. The Indian Army has already conducted extensive trials of the Israeli Spike ATGM which can be shoulder-launched and fire-and-forget missile, under varied conditions in plains, deserts and mountains. The American FGM-148 Javelin ATGMs has been reportedly shelved due to Washington's reluctance to licensed transfer of technology that would to allow India to indigenously manufacture the missiles. The AGTM project would the Army to equip all its 356 infantry battalions with the man-portable missiles as an effective counter to Pakistani and Chinese main battle tanks. A bulk of the estimated 2,000 launchers and 24,000 missiles required for this are planned for production by defence PSU Bharat Dynamics (BDL) after getting requisite ToT from the selected foreign vendor, according to reports. Meanwhile, Army Chief General Bikram Singh wants to induct the ATGMs by the end of 2017 as part of the infantry modernization program. Currently, the army operates second-generation Milan (2-km range) and Konkurs (4-km) ATGMs, produced by BDL under licence from French and Russian companies, which are wire-guided and do not have fire-and-forget capabilities. If Israel manages to clinch the deal, it will be the latest of three major missile programmes between the two. Where the U.S has already made sales to India worth over $8 billion in the last few years, including mega deals for C-130J 'Super Hercules', C-17 Globemaster-III and P-8I maritime patrol aircraft none of which involved licensed production in India.
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