US offers to co-develop new Javelin missile with India - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 16 September 2013

US offers to co-develop new Javelin missile with India

The Indian Army has fired 16 Javelin missiles during joint exercises. All have struck the target

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 17th Sept 13

The US Deputy Secretary of Defence, Ashton Carter, who arrives in India on Monday for a two-day visit, has masterminded a proposal that could dramatically boost US-India defence relations. The US Department of Defence (Pentagon) has written to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) proposing that the two countries collaborate in jointly developing a next-generation version of the Javelin anti-tank missile.

India has been offered a specific share of the development programme and requested to respond by a specific date. The Pentagon is going ahead with this progamme on its own if India chooses not to participate.

Last year, Carter had proposed that US companies could join hands with Indian partners in setting up manufacturing facilities for five major systems in India. These include the MH-60 Romeo multi-role helicopter, built by Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin; a delivery system for scatterable mines; and the M-45 127 millimetre rapid-fire naval gun. Later, the US proposed co-producing the Javelin missile, which is built by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin;

New Delhi has not yet responded to the co-manufacture proposal. Now Carter has raised the ante with his proposal for co-developing the next-generation Javelin.

India has a successful co-development project with Russia for the Brahmos cruise missile, and with Israel for the Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM) and Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MR-SAM). But with the US, India has only bought equipment over-the-counter. American equipment has not even been manufactured in India with technology transfer, far less co-developed.

US officials, speaking anonymously, confirm that the co-development proposal will be on Ashton Carter’s discussion agenda during his meetings in New Delhi on Tuesday. Carter will be meeting a range of Indian officials, including National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon.

Top Indian MoD sources confirm to Business Standard that the US co-development proposal for the next-generation Javelin has been received and is being evaluated.

A senior DRDO source also confirmed the US offer, but played it cool. He said, “The DRDO welcomes co-development of advanced weapon systems, provided there is real technological collaboration involved. India needs to fill its technology gaps and co-development should ensure that both partners build upon their mutual strengths.”

Carter’s proposal is part of a 15-month-old American push to intensify its defence relationship with India. Earlier, in response to New Delhi’s interest in the Javelin, the US State Department had observed that fulfilling India’s requirement would “alter the regional military balance.” Worse, Washington refused to transfer key technologies that New Delhi insisted upon as a part of the deal.

That approach changed dramatically since June 2012, when then US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, nominated Ashton Carter, to break down the bureaucratic barriers in Washington that impeded the US-India defence relationship --- which Washington had determined was pivotal to America’s future in Asia. A formal mechanism called the DTI --- tellingly, the US called it the Defence Trade Initiative, while India referred to it as Defence Technology Initiative --- was set up. Carter co-chairs it along with National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon,

A close watcher of the Pentagon says Carter has pushed the US bureaucracy hard to change their approach to India. Earlier, US officials regarded India as just another non-NATO country --- one with which America did not even have a formal alliance, and which was unwilling to sign cooperative agreements with the US.

“Before Carter got to work, releasing technology to India required a comprehensive justification to be made out. By April 2013, Pentagon officials needed to justify why a particular technology could not be released to India,” says the Pentagon watcher.

The Javelin is now a focus area for Carter. At one stage, the Indian MoD was close to buying a rival missile, the Israeli Spike, for its $1-1.5 billion tender for 8,400 missiles and 321 launcher units for the army’s 350-plus infantry units. But the MoD, wary of a single-vendor buy, ordered a “technology scan” to ascertain that there was no missile on the market other than the Spike.

The FGM-148 Javelin, jointly built by US companies, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, is the world’s premier man-portable, anti-tank missile. It gives infantrymen, highly vulnerable to enemy tanks on the battlefield, a weapon with which to destroy heavy armoured vehicles from a distance of 2.5 kilometres.

But the Israeli Spike, while not nearly as capable, is likely to be a good deal cheaper. If the MoD chooses price over capability, the Spike is likely to emerge the winner.

“But if the MoD agrees to Washington’s co-development proposal, the Javelin would become the clear front-runner for the $1-1.5 billion Indian contract. That is now a realistic prospect,” says a well informed member of the US defence industry.


  1. By co-develop you mean they design it, test it, manufacture it, markup the price by 200%-400% and then sell it as a kit to Indian government defense industries who reassemble the kit and pass it to the end user i.e., India Army, as a Desi product?

  2. "Israeli spike not nearly as capable"......Hmmm.....maybe you might like to look closely at why javelin dropped out of the tendering process , a little birdie says it was not a price issue

  3. Waiving candy...?

    Really pathetic

  4. Spike failed multiple times during trials by army, then why should again go for it?

  5. Well, all this is fine Ajai but will the US stand by us when our chestnuts are in fire the next time around. Will they be as prompt as Israel was during Kargil if another short war with Pakistan crops up? Strong contractual language may alleviate some concerns but trust deficits aren't easy to bridge. I am all for exploring new options given our abysmal indigenisation efforts but we will have to go in with our eyes open and expectations low.

  6. The difference between Spike and Javelin is chalk and cheese!Evaluations must be carried out on COMPARABLE SYSTEMS with levels of acceptance set to current technology standards.Sure the Spike may turn out L 1 but that is no reason to select the system.The upgraded Javelin will take our A Tk capabilities well into the next decade at lower overall costs for better returns.

  7. do v actually need this, why don't they offer something flashy like sonars and quitning tech for submarines,aesa tech,aero engine tech,missile guidance systems etc

    if our govt go for this nag will be dumped for sure.

  8. Change is constant and one must adapt.... yes USA was once anti-India, Soviet Union was very friendly but then times have changed which warrants looking at the these countries in the present situation... Israel's relative strength versus its rivals has faded, Russia is aware that it is not Soviet Union and has its own ambitions in this multi-polar world, USA is quite clear that going forward it needs solid partners for its Asia-Pacific shift. Now and in near future, USA and Israel need India, Russia does not. Combined with all merits of technology transfer, building domestic capability etc., I strongly believe India should grab this opportunity. The terms and conditions can always be made quite fool proof..

  9. Without semiconductor fabrication industry in India, all modern weapon systems will never be 100% indigenous. India first needs a latest fab to manufacture microprocessors, dsps, imaging sensors, power electronics semiconductors in high volumes. For that we need a domestic market for these parts. For which we need engineering universities which will adopt/use only local silicon for education, the way Microsoft, Apple "seeds" educational insitutes with their technologies so that future engineers already are trained with their products. For all this, it needs a vision! Unfortunately, this needs leaders with scientific (highly educated) background. Someone like APJ Kalam. All the upcoming lineup of dynastic brats are the types which India would do better without. So, its a matter of vision, and the task is really monumental. Till then, do whatever to keep the ship from sinking and fire-fighting bush fires. The attitudes of Indian govts of past 60+ years to R&D is not whollistic. It's more of a trouble-shooting type attitude, and a quick-fix type attitude, which will never deliver results. Having said all this, it would still be a good idea to partner with USA to learn the new standards required of Military Industrial complex. We should whole-heartedly embrace whoever gives us the opportunity to partner in research and development both.

  10. South Asia again props up Western and Eastern Defence manufacturing and research base. Do what the chinese do, buy few systems from the taliban (they have captured quite a few of these) and reverse engineer them.

  11. Anon@10:33 (Sep 17)
    You make it sound like India has gained a lot from other "co-development" programs. India assembled all kinds of products over last several decades in the name of co-development. Yet, the challenges remain. I personally feel no different about this co-development compared to any other in the past. Co-development is what you make it, if you have something to share at the table then the final product will have more of your input.
    I am no weapons expert, but if one system is indeed superior compared to the other, people in power need to think twice in this Post Sep-2001 era. My advise is don't keep looking at everything from the same old lens because India's position in the world has changed. But it seems like the Indians have yet to realize this.

  12. sure... we have taken... baby steps... in each of the 5 fields... the most difficult phase... do you want to... stunt the growth... then consider them as... commodities...

  13. US generally doesn't share any technology or co-develop any products with other countries. But if this really happens it will be really good news for not just India but also for US. The tech sharing will be highly beneficial for both the countries as US has the primary tech & India can further modify it.

  14. But, Ajai could you tell us why this indifference to American technology? I think i know the answer because the dealings with the Americans have to be Transparent no Under the Table deals. With everyone else (Russians, French, Israelis) there is so much Kickbacks. Man, i just hope somebody puts a stop to this. How much these people have stolen through the 'Vikrmadithya' 'Rafale' etc etc; and there is still no rat that can bell the cat.

  15. I have a doubt USA somehow needs to know the secret technology behind our Indian/Russian made Brahmos missile. Are they offering this chance just to learn those secrets. It is not a bad thought because for decades Russia is the frontrunner and the best on missile technology. Also co-developing with the Americans how much technology they will really share with India. As for the M-777 howitzer. Already Tata showed their own Howitzer, why not go indigenous?

  16. The government must make dispassionate and unbiased analysis of the offer. What are the rewards, what is the cost/benefit analysis viz off the shelf procurement, etc.

    Historical baggage and anti-americanism and our own paranoia and complexes should not factor into these sorts of deals. India doesn't need the American "superman" to save our skins at the nth hour, we just need the tools to save our own skins and defend what is ours. So in that respect, we should not allow our fears and our anxieties to tie our hands and allow us to get the best deal whereever and with whomever we can.

  17. Dr. Chander, in this April 23, 2013 interview, says that a man-portable version of Nag is being planned. He says that it can be made ready within 2 years of the project being sanctioned. (He starts discussing the Nag missile from 9:00 onwards, and the man-portable version at 12:20.)

  18. Javelin , Spike , Billion dollar all we have heard before. Why we can't hear Nag , Namica etc. Though we can't compare Nag with Javelin but if we have to buy a new ATGM. then we must go for Javelin as Americans are offering technology transfer. We were making Milan at "Bharat Dynamics" so we have the infrastructure.
    As far as 155 mm Howitzer is concern , we have the drawing of Bofors and so many private companies are offering us some form of 155 mm Howitzer. But then also we'll go for a new " FOREN " system. Even Singapore can make 155 mm Howitzer and offering us for sale. What a shame !

  19. Hope "Joint Dev" does not mean their development and our tax payers money. They should be told to find and Indian private partner and setup R&D industry here.


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