The government has decided to cancel a $500-million deal for Spike ATGM with Israel and instead give Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) a chance to develop and manufacture the Man-portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) indigenously in India.
The defence ministry wants the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to indigenously develop and build an MPATGM for the Army.
According to the defence ministry, DRDO, which has successfully produced the Nag and Anamika ATGMs, is confident of developing an MPATGM for the Army using 3rd generation missile technology, which would be on par with the Israeli Spike missile.
DRDO has been given three to four years to develop the missile and this would also avoid the need for technology transfer, according to defence ministry sources.
Defence ministry officials say the deal to import missile parts to assemble in India would adversely impact DRDO's programme to develop indigenous weapon system, especially since DRDO has previously produced the Nag and Anamika ATGMs.
India had also rejected an offer from US-based Raytheon-Lockheed Martin for Javelin ATGM in favour of the Israeli weapon system.
In fact, Rafael had entered into a joint venture with India's Kalyani group for missile production in India. The missile sub-systems manufacturing facility, based near Hyderabad, was inaugurated in August.
The Army had also shown urgency in procuring dependable operational equipment, arguing that the Spike ATGM will boost the capability of troops deployed on the Line of Control. The Army, which currently faces a massive shortage of around 68,000 missiles, however, is not amused at the defence ministry's twists and turns.
The $500 million deal, which was being witnessed as an example of the growing Indo-Israel defence cooperation, it would have adversely affected DRDO's missile development programme.
Arun Jaitley, who briefly took over from Manohar Parrikar as defence minister had, on 28 May, pitched for buiLding indIgenious equipment saying it is essential to deal with various security challenges like insurgency effectively.
''We cannot change our neighbours. And our neighbourhood has thrown up security challenges. We are facing insurgency and war for the last 70 years. Therefore, India needs to become an important defence manufacturing hub,'' he had said at the 9th convocation of the Defence Institute of Advance Technology (DIAT).
''If the economy requires us to become a manufacturing hub, then security requires us to become a hub for defence manufacturing. This is the area where the country will have to use the vast resources it possesses. We will have to use the large number of academic institutions we have for training minds and cover up the critical gap that still exists,'' Jaitley had said.
The country has institutions like IITs, DRDO labs and a large number of private institutes which can help it achieve the goal, the minister said. ''But the new India is a more confident India, it is not the defensive India. It is India, which is willing to globally integrate, share knowledge, get knowledge from outside,'' he said.