US anti-tank missile Javelin in face-off with Israel’s Spike - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

Home Top Ad


Monday 16 December 2013

US anti-tank missile Javelin in face-off with Israel’s Spike

The Israeli Spike ATGM now has competition. The US FGM-148 Javelin will soon be in the fray

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 17th Dec 13

The United States is rising steadily up the list of India’s top military suppliers. The ministry of defence (MoD) is finalising a decision to allow the FGM-148 Javelin missile, built by US companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, into in a contest to supply the Indian Army with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM).

This is bad news for Israeli company, Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, whose Spike ATGM was poised to be awarded the contract for 8400 missiles for India’s 350-odd infantry battalions, estimated to be worth Rs 9,300 crore ($1.5 billion).  When India floated a tender, only Rafael had offered a missile that met the army’s requirements. But now the Javelin is on offer and an interested MoD wants it to compete with Spike.

On Nov 11, the MoD’s apex Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) debated whether to buy the Spike. Eventually it shied away from a single-vendor purchase, even though a “global technology scan” that the military carried out earlier this year found no other comparable option. Now with the Javelin on offer, albeit as a latecomer, the game has changed.

The US Department of Defense (the Pentagon) has offered the Javelin in two separate letters to the MoD this year. As Business Standard first reported (Sept 17, “US offers to co-develop new Javelin missile with India”) the Pentagon has sweetened its offer with a proposal to co-manufacture the Javelin in India, and to partner the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) in co-developing an advanced version of the missile for the future.

The Pentagon has offered the Javelin under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. This implies it would be contracted directly between the Pentagon and the MoD, with the Pentagon negotiating terms with Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, and charging India 3.8 per cent of the contract amount as a fee. The MoD, wary of procurement scams, believes FMS contracts are relatively clean and increasingly favours this route. The C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, bought for Rs 25,000 crore ($4.12 billion) was an FMS contract; the on-going purchase of M777 artillery guns is also through the FMS route.

The Javelin offer also benefited from the personal advocacy of the recently retired US Defence Secretary, Ashton Carter, who lobbied forcefully during his visit to New Delhi on Sept 17.

“(The Javelin) is being offered to no other country but India”, Carter told the media in New Delhi.

India’s MoD has declined to comment on this proposal, but officials privately term the offer “unprecedented”. US equipment has always been bought over-the-counter. Now the offer to co-manufacture the third-generation (i.e. “fire-and-forget”) Javelin ATGM could bring in US best practices in high-tech manufacture. Meanwhile the DRDO is evaluating the proposal to co-develop a fourth-generation missile, an offer that the US has not made even to its closest allies.

The Javelin, which has seen extensive combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, is regarded as the world’s premier man-portable, anti-tank missile. It allows infantrymen, who are often vulnerable to enemy tanks, a weapon to destroy tanks from 4 kilometres away.

If the Javelin were superior to the Spike, as US officials claim, it would also be more expensive. The Pentagon’s co-manufacture and co-development offer seeks to compensate for that higher cost.

Yet, the army is frustrated at the stalling of the Spike purchase, which was being finalised after extensive trials. The army has now asked the DRDO to co-develop an ATGM with an international partner. Since defence procurement rules require the DRDO to select a development partner through competitive bidding, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon might have to compete with Rafael, and possibly other global vendors as well.

MoD sources welcome the prospect of US companies competing with other vendors to partner India in missile co-development. “The more vendors that compete, the better the deal for India”, says an official.

Missile co-development with Israel has been plagued with glitches in the past. The Indo-Israeli Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LR-SAM) and Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MR-SAM) projects are running years behind schedule.

Meanwhile, Washington-based sources tell Business Standard that the Pentagon plans to make the Javelin offer even more attractive. Declining to provide details, they say the MoD will soon hear the specifics.

Washington had not offered India the Javelin when the MoD first floated a global tender for ATGMs. The Pentagon was eager but the State Department argued that equipping India so lavishly would “alter the regional military balance”. With the US-India engagement maturing, the State Department is now fully on board.

Indian Army missile pilots had fired the Javelin several times during US-India joint exercises and were impressed by its performance. Nevertheless, the Javelin would be comprehensively trial-evaluated, as the Spike has been. That will only begin when an FMS request is processed between Washington and New Delhi.

With over Rs 50,000 crore ($8 billion) worth of orders already on its books, America is closing in on another Rs 30,000 crore ($5 billion) worth of arms sales to India. These include six C-130J Super Hercules tactical transport aircraft; 22 AH-64D Apache attack helicopters; 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters; and 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers. The Javelin could now swell that tally.


  1. Long list of "selections" (pending contracts)..........and, these are only from the USA.......if you add Europe/Russia/Japan/S's a long long one on which St Anthony has been sitting on you so long !!!

    What "contracts" do you anticipate will actually be signed by the end of this Financial year ?? Given the tightening of strings by the FM........................

  2. Stop... Nag in its track... Stop Acquiring... 4th gen... Knowledge Still Born... Nag Plus...

    1. Nag is not man portable... army has said that its heavy even for reloding it within namica.. so it might take years for us to develop a man portable version of nag... we need some thing to fill the gap.. afterall soldiers will be sitting ducks if not prooerly armed in time..

  3. Who was stopping these MoD idiots from asking DRDO to develop a lighter Version of NAG with Israel is less Nakhrebaaz than chacha SAM...

  4. US participation is long time in coming. They are so reluctant that original policy set during Cold War is still in place. They refuse to export to countries which were either neutral or State Department & Congressional leaders in US think should not get US military technology.

    This Jevlin missile has much less copy possible technology compared to M777 or P8I or other military helicopters or Nuclear Deal technology, but that resistance to export still exists.

    Blame this on the Cold Warriors.

    Get ready for three to four years delay as the Babus & Generals wish to have their own cut of the deal will send it thru rigorous trials and then find faults with it, just as they did in M777 artillery deals.

    What a pity on India's procuring procedures.

    As I said the Defence Minister A K Anthony has to go. He is part of the problem. He is not solution to the problem.

  5. too many cooks spoil the broth.

  6. Ajai, are you not a US stooge? Whats the point in buying a few pieces of shiny armament? Missile technology is now having good foundations in India. It should be used by DRDO to make ATGM. There is nothing like a borrowed regional power but only a stooge.

  7. i dont understand as our defense minister in past already cleared the air by saying that Javelin will be purchased through FMS and new generation of Javelin will be developed alogwith US under TOT.
    Israeli Spike will be choose only as Vehicle mounted anti tank missile not man portable.
    The frequent failure of Nag & delays making India to go for Spike as vehicle mounted option.

  8. I have a simple suggestion. Never believe in US and China for anything, they are here for their own well being. You may everyone is, but the most treacherous one is USA closely followed by China. I will say we can even believe Pakistan instead of these two countries. Russia and France is more than enough for us.

  9. A strip and cavity search in a dingy NYPD thana and the hopes and dreams of Indian generals and air marshals of building the US as major supplier of high tech defence equipment has most likely gone boom.

    So near yet so close. Things were rolling well for the air force and navy as the new aircraft type deliveries had started landing at Hindon and elsehwere amid great jubilation and fanfare. Even as your article points out , the Javelin was a possibility for inclusion for selection for the Army's ATM's.

    So what happens next ? Existing orders will be fulfilled but what about the files for new orders now working their way thru the bureaucracy of the MOD.

    Will Saint Antony now tell his minions to "position and hold" all US related purchase files? As it is ,the Tejas is now the flag of "indianisation' he is waving and the DRDO will only be too happy with this line.

    Looking forward to your take on the implication of the strip/cavity search on defence purchases from the US ?

  10. What about artillery ? This is the backbone of any army. even kumbhakarana used to,wake up once in 6 months, our MOD has been sleeping for 25 years.

  11. The US proposal was rejected.

    What india wanted was over the counter purchase and production in india.

    What the US is proposing is co-development which is no good. It'll take around 10 years before we acquire it. The ToT too is uncertain.

    The problem is that without javelins, the spike has no contender. We already have the nag program, We absolutely sure need a redundant javelin program now.

    In the end, the MoD will be purchasing a few spikes and rejuvenating the nag program.

  12. Correction above: It should have read that "india doesn't need another ATGM program, It already has an(nag) ongoing one".

    The US proposal of co-development is actually a googly, their own way of rejecting the indian proposal of OTC purchase along with ToT for domestic manufacturing in india.

  13. btw, about other military purchases from the US...

    Besides transport aircrafts(C130J, C17 and P8), all other orders are stuck in loop

    Apache and chinook are pending govt approval

    M777 is also stuck. BAE says order quick or it is closing production line. India has not replied.

    Javelin too has been offered as a co-development program. India has not replied to this either.


    The purchases are limited to transport aircrafts. The problem is that US hardware is better in competition but we cannot buy them. This is the dilemma. Either buy the US hardware(which we can't shoot with, bloody hell) or buy the closest non-US competitor product in the market.


Recent Posts

Page 1 of 10412345...104Next >>Last