New Delhi: The Indian ministry of defence has confirmed that it has signed a contract with M/s Rafael, Israel for the supply of the SPYDER (Surface-to-air Python and Derby) low level quick reaction missile system (LLQRM) for the Indian Air Force.
In a written statement to the Rajya Sabha, the ministry also said that the induction of the indigenous Trishul SAM system was foreclosed because of its inability to meet certain critical operational requirements. It said the system, however, served as a technology demonstrator and the expertise acquired with the technologies developed during the design and development phase of the Trishul were being utilized for developing a state-of-the-art short range surface to air missile system.
Reports in the media over the previous three months have suggested that the $260 million contract would involve the supply of 18 SPYDER systems, with deliveries running through early 2011 to August 2012.
The supply is regarded as part of the country's attempt to upgrade its badly outdated anti-aircraft and missile defences, which still rely on antiquated Soviet era OSA-AKM [SA-8 Gecko] and ZRK-BD Strela-10M [SA-13 Gopher] SAM systems.
The medium range and long range surface-to-air system (MR/LR-SAM) is an Rs10,000 crore (approximately $2.5 billion) project for use by India's land forces. As it did in its development of the PJ-10 BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, a joint venture with Russia, India hopes to create a breakthrough in SAM technologies through a joint venture with Israel.
RAFAEL would be the prime contractor operating under the auspices of the Israel Aircraft Industries.
The MR/LR-SAM systems will address critical air defense weaknesses and upgrade "protection of vital and strategic ground assets and area air defence."
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will be the 'prime developer' for the project which will have a Rs2,300 crore indigenous component. IAI will contribute most of the applicable technology, the same as Russia did for the BrahMos by offering its SS-N-26 Oniks missile as the base platform.
The MR/LR-SAM may surpass even the BrahMos to become the largest joint defence development project ever undertaken by India with any other country.
Running over a time span of 4-5 years the project seeks to provide Indian land forces with at least nine advanced air defence squadrons initially, each with two MR-SAM firing units.
Again, reports would suggest that through the development programme IAI and its Israeli partners will transfer all relevant technologies and manufacturing capabilities to India. The 4-year, $300 million system design and development phase will develop unique system elements and also an initial tranche of the land-based missiles.
The SPYDER System
The procurement of the system was finally approved by the Defence Acquisitions Council in July 2008 and a contract for the supply of 18 systems has now been signed.
SPYDER is a low-level, quick-reaction, surface-to-air missile (LLQRM) system capable of engaging aircraft, helicopters, unmanned air vehicles, drones and precision-guided munitions. The system provides air defence for fixed assets and for point and area defence for mobile forces in combat areas.
The SPYDER-SR (short range) system has 360° engagement capability and the missiles can be launched from the full-readiness state in less than five seconds post target confirmation. The kill range is specified as being less than 1km to more than 15km. The altitudes range from a minimum of 20m to a maximum of 9,000m. The system is capable of multi-target simultaneous engagement and also single, multiple and ripple firing, by day and night and in all weathers.
Rafael is developing a medium-range version, SPYDER-MR, which has a range over 35km at altitudes from 20m to 16km. SPYDER-MR carries eight missiles while SPYDER-SR has four.
SPYDER-MR also has new IAI/Elta MF-STAR surveillance radar.
The main components of the SPYDER system are the truck-mounted command and control unit, the missile firing unit with Python 5 and Derby missiles, a field service vehicle and missile supply vehicle.
The system can launch missiles in two modes of operation: lock on before launch (LOBL) and lock on after launch (LOAL).
A typical SPYDER squadron consists of one mobile command and control unit (CCU) and four mobile firing units (MFU). The mobile CCU is equipped with a surveillance radar and two operator stations with a radio datalink between the CCU and the four MFUs.
The CCU combines data from the local surveillance radar and from upper tier command and control centres up to 100km away. There is also provision for receiving air situation pictures (ASP) from other datalinks.
The VHF/UHF interference-free communication system is for internal squadron communication and to upper tier command.
If the target is within acquisition range the missile is launched in LOBL mode, and in the LOAL mode if the target is beyond seeker acquisition range.
Both the Derby and the Python 5 missiles can operate in LOBL and LOAL modes and deploy warheads that blast on impact or by proximity fuse.
The Elta EL/M 2106 ATAR 3D surveillance radar can simultaneously track up to 60 targets. The radar has 360° operation and all-weather day and night capability. The radar includes advanced electronic counter countermeasures (ECCM) for operation in dense hostile electronic warfare environments.
The Python and the Derby
The Python 5 missile is Rafael's new very high agility dogfight air-to-air missile and is supposed to be the most capable AAM in Israel's inventory. It has BVR (beyond visual range), LOAL (lock-on after launch), and all-aspect, all-direction (including backward) attack capability.
The missile has an advanced electro-optical imaging infrared seeker (IIR or ImIR) that scans the target area for hostile aircraft, then locks-on for terminal chase. The missile is supposed to be as manuevorable as air-to-air missiles with thrust vectoring technology.
The missile's guidance and control systems are active for a three times longer period than with earlier versions of the Python, enabling the missile to counter targets making evasive manoeuvres.
The high explosive fragmentation warhead is fitted with an active laser proximity fuse.
The Python 5 has a range of 20km.
Also known as the Alto, the Derby missile is a BVR, medium-range active-radar seeker missile. Though not part of the Python family, the missile is basically an enlarged Python-4 with an active-radar seeker. It has a range of 50 km.
Both missiles have a speed of Mach 4.