India receives last batch of Igla-S MANPADS from Russia

India receives last batch of Igla-S MANPADS from Russia

The Indian Army is on the verge of enhancing its air defense capabilities with the imminent arrival of the latest batch of the very short-range air defense system Igla-S, now assembled locally. Scheduled for delivery by the end of May 2024 to early June 2024, these systems aim to fill a crucial gap in the country’s defense arsenal, following several delays. The Igla-S will henceforth be assembled in India by Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Limited (ADSTL) under a technology transfer from Rosoboronexport, as part of the army’s emergency procurement initiatives.

As a reminder, the contract was signed in December 2020 and the first delivery was made in April 2024. This included 24 launchers, 216 missiles, and testing equipment. The final batch will increase the total number of Igla-S systems to 48 launchers, 100 missiles, 48 night-vision devices, and a missile test station. These acquisitions were made for a total of 260 crore rupees (approximately 32 million dollars). This reinforcement comes at a critical time as India continues to consolidate its position along the Actual Control Line (LAC) with China, an area marked by sporadic clashes and persistent tensions.

The Igla-S system, with an interception range of up to 6 kilometers, is a significant upgrade over the currently used Igla-1M systems. The first systems were introduced in 2021 via an emergency procurement procedure, but this recent order is part of a broader and planned initiative, where future units will be produced in India. Igla-S will henceforth be assembled in India by Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Limited (ADSTL) following a technology transfer from Rosoboronexport.

India’s choice of the Igla-S system followed a lengthy selection process that began in 2010 under the government of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). In 2018, Rosoboronexport was selected over French and Swedish competitors, although this decision was contested by the competitors, claiming that the Russian system did not meet the technical requirements of the tender.

The Igla-S MANPADS is crucial for neutralizing low-altitude air threats such as aircraft, drones, and missiles in high mountainous regions. The necessity for modernized systems was underscored by a letter in 2012 from the former Army Chief of Staff, General V.K. Singh, who reported that nearly 97% of the air defense equipment was obsolete.

In addition to updating its air defense inventory, India has also seen significant advances with successful tests of indigenous VSHORADS missiles by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in February of this year.

The Igla-S, also used by several other countries, includes a 9M342 missile that can be mounted on various platforms, effectively increasing its range and capability against smaller targets like cruise missiles. This ready-to-use system weighs 17 kg and has a reaction time of 5 to 10 seconds, using a passive infrared aiming device and night vision capabilities.

This enhancement of India’s air defense capabilities with the Igla-S systems illustrates the country’s ongoing commitment to maintaining a robust defense posture in the face of regional and global strategic challenges.

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