According to defence sources, the Army, which has for long been looking for new man portable air defence systems, has inducted a small number of Igla-S systems recently bought from Russia under emergency procurement.
About Igla-S missile System:
Developed by Russia
It is a man-portable air defence system (MANPADS)
It has won bid for Indian Army’s Very Short Range Air Defence deal.
It offers superior performance over earlier supplied SA-18 missiles to India.
It is designed for use against visible aerial targets at short range such as tactical aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs), cruise missile, head-on or receding, in presence of natural (background) clutter and countermeasures.
As per requirements of Indian Army, it will have maximum range of 6 km, altitude of 3 km along with all-weather capability.
Igla-S missile system will replace the existing Igla in service which is in urgent need of replacement.
A brief History:
The first MANPADS developed by the US were called ‘Redeye’ and declared operational in 1968, according to a report by the Australian Government.
An updated version, the Stinger, was released in 1970s.
They were provided to Mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight Soviet aircraft in the 1980s.
The Soviets too have developed their own MANPADS – Strela and Igla.
Around 20 countries, including the US, UK, Russia, Sweden, North Korea, Poland, and others, produce MANPADS.
Very Short Range Air Defence System (VSHORAD) deal:
The contract was signed in December 2020 and the equipment was delivered by December 2021. This includes 24 launchers, 216 missiles and testing equipment.
The procurement was done through the Vice Chiefs emergency financial powers given to the Services for the first time after the Balakot air strike in February 2019 and further extended after the standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh in May 2020.
Under this, Services can procure weapons systems upto ?300 crores on an urgent basis without any further clearances.
The larger VSHORAD deal which began in 2010 and saw several rounds of trials and re-trials is still pending.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) for VSHORAD was issued in October 2010 for over 5,000 missiles, 258 single launchers and 258 multi-launchers.
Five contenders responded and eventually three made it to the trials - MBDA of France, Rosoboronexport of Russia and SAAB of Sweden. Eventually all three companies were declared technically compliant in 2017 and Igla-S was declared the lowest bidder in November 2018.
As per requirements, the VSHORAD should have a maximum range of 6 km, altitude of 3 km along with all-weather capability and will replace the existing Igla in service which is in urgent need of replacement.
VSHORAD is the soldier’s last line of defence against enemy combat aircraft and helicopters in the multilayered air defence network.