India to order large number of Javelin anti-tank missiles from US

EW DELHI: Faced with a huge shortfall of anti-tank guided missiles
(ATGM), coupled with the delayed induction of the indigenous `Nag’
missile, India will order a “large” number of the quite-expensive
Javelin ATGM systems from the US.

The deal for the man-portable, fire-and-forget Javelin ATGM systems
will once again be a direct government-to-government one under the
American foreign military sales (FMS) programme, without any global
multi-vendor competition.

Much to the dismay of Russians and Europeans, India is increasingly
taking the FMS route to ink big arms deals with US. The biggest on the
verge of finalisation, of course, is for 10 C-17 Globemaster-III giant
strategic airlift for upwards of $3 billion.

As for the Javelin contract, defence minister A K Antony told
Parliament on Monday the “letter of request” to US government for
procurement of the third-generation ATGM, along with “transfer of
technology”, would be issued soon.

This means India will buy some of the 2.5-km range Javelin systems
off-the-shelf, while a much larger number will be indigenously
manufactured under licensed production. The US has already showcased
the ATGM system during bilateral combat exercises like `Yudh-Abhyas’ in
Babina last October, as reported earlier.

While the exact number of Javelin systems India will induct is yet to
be decided, it could well run into thousands. The Army, after all, has
a shortfall of around 44,000 ATGMs of different types. “Though Army has
an authorised holding of 81,206 ATGMs, not even half that number is
present in its inventory,” said a source.

This when Pakistan is inducting a wide array of missiles, including
2,769 TOW-2A heavy anti-armour guided missiles from US. Mechanised as
well as regular infantry units armed with advanced ATGM systems are
deemed critical to slow down, if not halt, enemy armoured thrusts into
one’s territory.

Indian infantry units are as of now equipped with variants of the
second-generation 2-km-range Milan and 4-km-range Konkurs ATGMs,
produced by defence PSU Bharat Dynamics Ltd under licence from French
and Russian companies.

As for the third-generation Nag ATGM, with a 4-km strike range, Army
has placed an initial order for 443 missiles and 13 Namicas (Nag
missile tracked carriers). After 20 years of development, the Nag is
only now getting ready to enter the production/induction phase.

The urgency about the fast-dwindling ATGM stock can be gauged from the
fact that Army has ordered 4,100 “advanced” Milan-2T missiles, with
“tandem warheads”, as well as 15,000 Konkurs-M missiles over the last
couple of years.
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