New Delhi : India and Israel are to enter into a Rs.100 billion ($2.5 billion) joint venture to develop a medium-range missile for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to replace its ageing Soviet-era Pichora weapon system.
The cabinet committee on security (CCS) at a meeting here Wednesday chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cleared the JV between the Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for developing the new generation, 70-km range missile, defence sources said.
The IAF will also be associated with the project, which will have an indigenous component of Rs.23 billion.
The sources said that 18 command and launch systems are also to be built for the new missile, which has been described as a robust system to counter a wide variety of threats to ground assets.
The new weapon is likely to be an advanced version of the Israeli Spyder quick-reaction surface-to-air missile the IAF has acquired. This was ironically due to time and cost overruns in the DRDO’s development of the Aakash missile that was meant to perform a similar role.
The Spyder has an effective range of 55 km.
DRDO and IAI are already in a Rs.14 billion JV to develop an extended-range version of the Barak missile that is deployed on frontline Indian Navy warships like the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.
The next-generation Barak will have a 70-km range against the 10-km radius of the existing missile.
DRDO, in collaboration with Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia, has successfully developed the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile that has just been inducted into the Indian army. Its sea and air launched versions are under development.