April 22, 2021
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Overcoming hurdles
Procedural delays may halt Indian SAM deployment program

All future acquisition process for getting surface to air missiles for Indian armed forces may face new sets of hurdles after procedural formalities are not being met due to lack of intra departmental coordination involving MoD and other ministries.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is unhappy that there is lack of coordination from some key departments of Ministry of Defence to work out a detailed roadmap for Indian surface to air missile program so that defence needs can be met urgently.

Since SAM projects are being given high priority by the MoD in view of changing situations in the region, the logistics, mobile platforms, electronics and command and control systems should also be planned for acquisition or manufacturing from now for smooth deployment of SAMs.

India is going for high mobility and canister based systems for all its SAMs and various configurations of range whether it is short range SAMs, medium range SAMs or long range SAMs, or ship based systems.

Now the DIPP wants exact specifications and related details from MoD so that it can put it out for interested parties those are keen to participate in ‘Make in India’ in defence sector to manufacture these systems in India.

The market share in this segment is huge as it involves all three forces and the surface to air missile deployment can be challenging due to varied topographic conditions since India has a huge complicated border region involving massive coastline.

India is going for indigenous surface to air missile program and joint development of SAM projects with Russia, Israel and France.

On the top of it, SAMs will need hitech command and control systems to monitor enemy activities and gather real time information to neutralize the threat.

For example, the land version of medium range SAM for the use of Army will be quite a replica of Air Force project which has a range of 70km. But the cost and equipment of logistics could also be a challenging task if it is not made in India.

Indeed, MRSAM systems will be jointly developed by India’s state-owned defence research agency, the Defence Research and Development Organization, and Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) of Israel but it will be produce by the BDL.

Similarly, India and France are now all set to revive the SR SAM project which is facing hurdles since 2007 to meet the requirement of Army and IAF.

Although the MoD is working on specifications for logistical equipment for SAM programs, the DIPP is keen that it is done earlier so that more foreign and domestic players can take a decision to participate in the project.

On the top of it, Russian and East European companies are also offering their expertise in the segment with a low cost option for quick mobility of SAM batteries from one location to another.

But the MoD will have to engage service headquarters and its own departments to work out all the relevant details so that DIPP can move in attracting new players into ‘Make in India’ in defence.