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14 Nov, 2023 12:27

Russia and India sign deal on Igla-S missiles – TASS

New Delhi will buy the portable anti-aircraft system from Moscow and will also manufacture it locally under license
Russia and India sign deal on Igla-S missiles – TASS

Moscow and New Delhi have signed a contract for the supply and licensed manufacturing of Igla-S portable anti-aircraft missile systems (MANPADS) in India, according to Russia’s main arms export body, Rosoboronexport. 

The Igla-S, which is designed to bring down an enemy aircraft or small-sized air targets like cruise missiles, was adopted by the Indian Army last year under emergency procurement from Russia in small quantities, while a larger procurement was pending. 

We have already signed the relevant document and now, together with an Indian private company, we are organizing the manufacturing of Igla-S MANPADS in India,” Alexander Mikheyev, CEO of Rosoboronexport told TASS on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow 2023. 

India has decided to procure the latest version of Igla-S MANPADS to replace the outdated Soviet-era Igla-M systems used by the army since the 1980s, Economic Times reported in 2018. The deal was estimated at $1.5 billion, adjusted for inflation. 

The Hindu reported in 2022, citing defense sources, that the Indian Army, which had been looking for new man-portable air defense systems for a long time, had acquired “a small number” of Igla-S systems from Russia under an emergency procurement deal inked in December 2020. The delivery included 24 launchers, 216 missiles and testing equipment, the report claimed.

The larger contract for Igla-S systems is being executed under New Delhi’s Very Short Range Air Defence System (VSHORAD) procurement program, launched in 2010 with the goal of procuring some 5,000 missiles, 258 single launchers and 258 multi-launchers. 

Meanwhile, the Rosoboronexport head also told RIA Novosti that talks are ongoing with several Indian defense entities to jointly manufacture aviation weaponry as part of New Delhi’s efforts to increase the share of defense platforms and munitions manufactured domestically. “Rosoboronexport is working with Indian private and public enterprises to organize joint production of aviation weapons and integrate them into the existing aviation fleet in India,” Mikheyev said. 

He added that Rosoboronexport is aware of the policies of the Indian government regarding self-reliance in defense manufacturing and the “strict requirements” the country places on its partners under the ‘Make in India’ program, which includes provision of “maximum localization” of defense production and technology transfer.

The ‘Make in India’ scheme, which is being aggressively promoted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government across sectors, including defense, is aimed at increasing the share of indigenously made weaponry and technology transfer from foreign partners, or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM).

In 2020, the Indian government increased the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit to 74% for defense joint ventures from previous limit of 49% to encourage foreign manufacturers to set up defense manufacturing facilities in the country. Previously, investments above 49% were permitted through government approval on a case by case basis and implied access to modern and state of the art technology.

According to Mikheyev, Rosoboronexport was working with Indian defense majors under similar conditions even before the ‘Make in India’ initiative was launched in 2014. Russia has been supplying India’s military with Su-30MKI aircraft, tanks, other armored vehicles, and missiles, he noted, with each of these platforms having a certain share of locally-made content.

The Indian Air Force presently operates around 260 fourth-generation Su-30 MKI fighters, more than 220 of which were assembled by India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited at its Nashik facility under a licensing agreement. 

One of the latest Russia-India joint ventures in defense is the manufacture of Russian-designed Kalashnikov AK-203 rifles. Production was launched in January 2023 and the joint venture has a target of 100% localization according to a statement by Rostec corporation, which is part of Rosoboronexport. It added that India is the first foreign country where the Kalashnikov 200 series has been licensed for manufacture.