New Delhi: A little more than a year after it first offered the Patriot ballistic missile defence (BMD) system to India, and received no perceptible response from the Indian side, it now appears that Lockheed Martin may now like to partner India's premiere defence research agency, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the development of sub-systems for a BMD system.
The Lockheed offer comes less than a month after the DRDO has carried out successful tests of its own interceptor missiles as part of an attempt to develop an indigenous BMD system.
Interestingly, the last time it had offered the Patriot, it was immediately after DRDO conducted the Prithvi Air defence Exercise (PADE) tests in November 2006 that successfully demonstrated the exo-atmospheric capabilities of its interceptor missile system. (See: India crosses the threshold)
This time the Lockheed offer comes on the heels of tests conducted by the DRDO in November 2007 that have successfully demonstrated the endo-atmospheric capability of their interceptor missiles.
"We are still in touch with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) officials," Dennis D Cavin, vice president, International Air and Missile Defence Strategic Initiatives (IAMDSI) of Lockheed Martin, told news agency PTI.
The IAMDSI is developing the PAC-III anti-missile system for the US.
The PTI report also mentions that US experts are saying that New Delhi may be looking for Washington's help and that of other nations in developing crucial sub-systems for the BMD.
According to the report, Cavin, who would be flying to India next month, said India could be looking at US help to develop "hit-to-kill" technology for its interceptor missiles.
The American official said he would be meeting Dr VK Saraswat, the man who has developed the country's interceptor missile programme.
Interestingly, Dr Saraswat in his interactions with the media post-PADE tests had been somewhat dismissive of both the Russian S-300/400 systems and the Lockheed Martin designed Patriot system, saying that the Indian system would be a superior one when fully developed.
The United States is developing a multi-layered anti missile defence system of which, PAC-II, III and THAAD would form essential components. The US, which has already deployed PAC-II and III systems, is likely to deploy THAAD system between 2009-2010 to provide cover for its troops deployed overseas.