India’s state-funded defence research agency launched an unprecedented attack on Israeli manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defence Systems on Friday, ahead of a multi-billion deal to supply third generation anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) to the Indian Army.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has claimed that the Israeli firm has been circulating “incorrect facts” regarding India’s ATGM.
A News item relating to Spike Missile testing at the Infantry school MHOW purportedly based on a press release is circulating incorrect facts. The DRDO ATGM is a state of art missile in advanced stages of development.— DRDO (@DRDO_India) November 29, 2019
The tweet followed Rafael's statement: “With confidence in the Spike missile established, the Indian Army may need to revisit their plans” to develop an Indian anti-tank guided missile.
The statement by the Israeli firm came on the same day when India's Army chief witnessed test firing of the Israeli Spike long-range ATGM at an infantry school in Mhow, a cantonment in Madhya Pradesh state.
Rafael claimed that it will take a long time for the DRDO develop an ATGM to reach the Indian Army in the field.
“To overcome the critical capability void, the Indian Army procured a limited quantity of Spike LR missiles”, the Israeli firm said about a recent purchase of over 200 Spike missiles made under an emergency procurement in July.
“Both the DRDO ATGM program as well as the invitation to the industry to develop a third-generation missile will need a rethink, as having a fourth generation missile will put the plan for development of a third generation missile questionable”, the company argued.
The Indian Defence Ministry cancelled a planned $500 million purchase of Spike anti-tank missiles from Israel's Rafael in favour of the DRDO's man-portable anti-tank guided missiles in January 2018 - just days ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Delhi.
The Indian Army says it requires at least 40,000 anti-tank guided missiles in the next two decades.