The Indian Defense Ministry has cancelled a planned $500 million purchase of Spike anti-tank missiles from Rafael in favor of weapons designed and built in India by the government’s own research and development bureau, the DRDO, the Indian Express reported Monday.
The Ministry of Defense has been famously capricious with regards to buying Spikes, but following an emergency buy of 240 missiles and 12 launchers in April, the big buy seemed all but certain, Sputnik reported. New Delhi previously bailed on a Spike purchase in 2011 and again in 2017, both times under the pressure of the DRDO.
Following the conclusion of a deal for 8,356 Spike missiles and 321 launchers in 2014, Rafael set up a joint facility in India with the local Kalyani Group to produce 3,000 of them, but India bailed on the deal in 2017. When the deal was revived in January, it was to be just as before, but now that deal has been “abandoned,” the Indian Express reported.
The Defense Ministry has stated it will need about 68,000 anti-tank missiles and about 850 launchers in the next 20 years, so any such deal would be extremely valuable.
Prime Minister Narenda Modi has promoted a "Make-in-India" policy in which the DRDO plays a key role in providing indigenously developed technology instead of leaving the country dependent on foreign purchases. Off-the-shelf buys that don’t include tech transfers have seen cloudy skies since Modi’s initiative began in 2014, especially with the United States.
DRDO tested an indigenously-designed man-portable anti-tank guided missile (MPATGM) it had produced in conjunction with VEM Technologies, Ltd. at its Ahmednagar test range in Maharashtra in September 2018 and now claims it can deliver the weapon by 2021, officials told the Express.
However, the Indian Air Force still has plans to buy other weapons systems from Rafael, including an advanced “bunker buster” version of its Spice-2000 bombs after the penetrator version failed to destroy targets during a February bombing run in Pakistan, Sputnik reported.