Javelin missile, R&D coop to feature in US-India talks - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Sunday 15 April 2012

Javelin missile, R&D coop to feature in US-India talks

A Javelin missile being launched by a two-man infantry team. Technology issues around the proposed Javelin sale to India will be discussed during Andrew Shapiro's meetings in Delhi today

Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 16th Apr 12

As New Delhi looks to translate its relationship with the US into badly needed high technology, the government is readying for meetings tomorrow with America’s key gatekeeper of military technology, the visiting assistant secretary of state for political military affairs, Andrew Shapiro.

High on New Delhi’s technology agenda is Washington’s reluctance to transfer military knowhow, of the kind needed for building the FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile in India. The Army wants the Javelin for its ground forces, to enable two-man infantry teams to fire $40,000 missiles at $10 million enemy tanks 2,500 metres away and destroy them 95 per cent of the time. The Javelin sale, potentially a billion-dollar (Rs 5,000 crore) contract for US companies, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, has been blocked by Shapiro’s office, the department of political military affairs. The technology, it has been deemed, is too sensitive to transfer.

Shapiro’s 10-person team will be discussing this issue with India’s defence and foreign ministries (MoD and MEA), which regard overly-strict US licensing and export controls as key obstacles in “operationalising”, or obtaining tangible benefits from the growing strategic convergence between the US and India.

In clearing any transfer of high technology like the Javelin, Shapiro’s primary consideration is strategic: would technologically enabling India enhance long-term US strategic interests, without threatening America’s lead in military technology. Growing pressure from American senators and representatives complicates Shapiro’s decision-making. Fearing the declining US defence budget will cause job losses in their constituencies, American legislators are willing to back technology transfer to India, if that is what it takes to get orders from the world’s biggest buyer of foreign weaponry.

A likely example of this is the Global Hawk Block 30, a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which flies 36-hour unmanned missions to watch over vast expanses of territory or water. After the latest US defence budget cuts, the US Air Force has cancelled orders for Global Hawks, 13 of which have already been built or are close to completion by Northrop Grumman. The politically influential company, aided by US Congressmen in whose constituencies the UAV is built, are pressuring the US government to find alternative buyers. There are 13 Block 30 Global Hawks almost ready, which will now be mothballed.

Savvy bargaining by India could get it the Block 30 Global Hawk and perhaps even the technologies that go into it, believes Manohar Thyagaraj, an expert on US-India military relations.

“If India were to express interest, US Congressmen would mount pressure on Shapiro to share the technology. But India tends to engage only the US administration; it has put very little effort into building relationships on Capitol Hill. When Congress gets onto something, it acquires real momentum. New Delhi has not yet understood that engaging Congress is as important as engaging the administration,” says Thyagaraj.

India’s key technology player, the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO), has figured out the opportunity that lies in declining Western defence budgets. DRDO chief V K Saraswat declared during the Defexpo India 2012 defence exhibition on March 31, “Global economic recession is leading to capacities and capabilities in the international market that we can exploit. So, it will be an era of US and European agencies coming and trying to work with us and we will exploit this.”

Shapiro’s department of political military relations must okay all such joint ventures. US defence giant Raytheon is learnt to be keen on working with DRDO for developing technologies that can detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the roadside bombs that took a heavy toll of US lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that are now being used to deadly effect by Maoist insurgents in India. With US government funding, Raytheon has already developed a technology called SAVI (Seismic Accoustic Vibration Imaging), which uses acoustic reflections to detect buried IEDs. But budgetary cuts have dried up Raytheon’s funding, and it is looking towards India for partnership in developing SAVI into a deployable military system.

“The DRDO’s funding and scientific base is ideal for reviving such a project; and both sides would profit from selling the SAVI system to the Indian military and abroad. If India comes to the table with money, it would be well placed to negotiate access,” says a top DRDO official.

The dialogue on Monday will be followed by a succession of others. The US-India-Japan trilateral is scheduled for April 22 in Tokyo, followed by the US-India Strategic Dialogue in Washington in May and the US-India Homeland Security dialogue in June.


  1. such a high cost of javelin and subsequent failure video of javelin as well as war footage from Iraqi where they blew building not tank with javelin, tell diffrent story of so called successful missile.

    should not we need something cheaper than this basically in local public or private manufacturer.

    I think Indian defence industry is just infant but government can help by requesting RFP with local who can tie up aboard and bring product here

  2. This endevour is to be used... to update and validate... our own R&D efforts... and used for capacity bulding in R&D... not just copy some technologies... which is 100% alien to us... in its scope and purpose... the partnership should not be allowed to... kill fledging R&D institutions... like for example sirkosky offer to just... build thier helicopters here...

  3. Andrew Shapiro - just take one line message from India. "It take two to tango". So don't complain about MMRCA, grab what is still a sizable money on table. Buddy this is approx - US$80b, just in case you are the NUMBERS GUY.

  4. What does Javelin offer that Nag does not? The answer to that is very important in understanding Army's wish for Javelin purchase and GoI treatment.

  5. Ajay

    Could you please explain your interest for american products? Cancel MMRCA and go with F-35, Cancel trainer deal and go with Lockheed Korean trainer, ignore SPIKE and NAG ATGM's and go with technology restricted High price Javelin? You all of a sudden seems to support everything american!

    IMHO javelin is a good missile in its class, but too expensive one. There are technology restrictions also with the missile. A SPIKE from Israyel or a minimized version of NAG with the new seeker they tested will be apt for India as we have to produce them in millions. Don't try to make every deal a MMRCA looking for the best ignoring the price or very soon we will find our self bankrupt.

  6. Javelin is portable. Nag can be carried only by tracked vehicle.

  7. What does Javelin offer that Nag does not?

    the answer is very simple. Nag is of diffrent kind on the lines TOW missile and not man portable.
    javeline is manportable like our currently millan. comparing NAG and Javelin is comparing apples and oranges.

  8. Paying extra for tech transfer is WORTHLESS... Drdo in uncompetent... Cant build even secondary weapon systems fully.. What system hv been built here using tech. Tranferred? Critical components r still sourced frm outside... HAL DRDO dono ka kabhi kuch nahi ho sakta..

  9. @Anony 09:37
    Nag is not shoulder mounted.
    JAvelin is... this changes everything.

    Equip just two regular units with Javelin, deply them on eastern Sikkim and Arunanchal borders and announce\leak their deployment. You would automatically assure that the chinese would never threat or even deploy their tank regiments anywhere close to the border.

    Just the event of them not attacking us with Tanks in regions where we are unable to counter them with our tanks, would pay every single penny of the costS.

  10. ...

  11. While the Javelin would be “cool” to have and certainly worth the cost, it is not irreplaceable as the Spike and Russian ATGMs are equally good and the Indian Army has access to both of them. The problem with the Indian Army is not access to weapon systems but fielding them in sufficient numbers across the board. Fielding ATGMs would be a good deterrent against the Chinese but not as much as the Indian Army’s plan for 2 new mountain divisions would be or for that matter the widespread availability of light weight artillery like the M777.
    Perhaps the greatest get from the article is the Global Hawk, whose access is severely restricted by the US to only its closest allies. India getting access to these UAV’s would be a game changer for the Indian Navy in terms of Indian Ocean surveillance and control, not to mention change the face of coastal surveillance and security.

  12. Do we really need DRDO, if for every technology we have to depend on the West. Why can't we just ask these guys to tie up with Indian Companies and set up shop here. The respective services can then choose the best offer based on competitive bidding. Directly or Indirectly they will get the money. So why not ask them to invest here.

  13. Thanks guys for the difference between Nag and Javelin. The answer was literal whereas one expected something beyond. Ok, let's take it one step further.

    Is this difference
    - worth paying for or
    - is it something that it not important and hence not a priority for in-house R&D or
    - something beyond DRDO and hence we need to pay for?

    Anon @ 09:37

  14. This is the right time for purchasing such weapons from the USA along with the ToT.

  15. Which tanks that our neighbors have cost $10 M or Rs 50 crores?

    The best i can think of is the T-80 and it does not even cost $5 MM a piece.

    One would think that with your background in the Army, you would quote reasonable numbers for cost but sadly that is not the case.


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