Army test-fires newly acquired Israeli anti-tank missile in Madhya Pradesh

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The Army on Wednesday successfully tested two newly acquired Spike long-range (LR) anti-tank guided missiles at the Infantry School at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh.

The Army has recently procured a small batch of 12 launchers and 250 missiles from Israel using its new financial powers to make emergency procurements sanctioned by the Defence Ministry a few months back.

“The delivery of Spike missiles has been completed, and they have been deployed in the western sector against Pakistan,” Army sources said. The firing was undertaken on the sidelines of the annual Infantry Commanders’ Conference at Mhow and witnessed by Army chief General Bipin Rawat and other senior officers.

“Spike-LR is a fourth-generation missile, which can engage a target with precision at ranges up to 4 km. In addition to the fire-and-forget capability, the missile has the ability to fire, observe and update, providing substantial flexibility to the firer to pinpoint the impact point, as also the ability to switch to a different target mid-flight…,” the manufacturer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, of Israel said in a statement on Thursday. India became the 33rd country to induct the missile.

Under the emergency powers given to the Services after the Balakot airstrike, they can procure equipment worth up to ₹300 crores on a priority basis. Deliveries should be completed in three months, but they can be stretched up to six months. Entirely new systems not in use can also be procured, sources had said earlier.

Earlier, the Army tried to buy a large number of anti-tank guided missiles for which trials were held. The Spike was short-listed. However, the tender was canceled during cost negotiations; attempts to buy a small number of Spike systems through an inter-governmental agreement did not fructify either and the government decided to meet the requirement through the indigenous man-portable anti-tank guided missiles being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

However, this Spike-LR missile is different from the one tested and short-listed as part of an earlier plan to buy over 8,000 missiles and 300 launchers, along with technology transfer.

Before the inter-governmental agreement was concluded, Army sources had said some trials to validate the missile’s infrared seeker will be held during Indian summers as the missile “did not perform as desired at the previous trials held in peak summer temperatures in the desert.” The validatory trials were not conducted as the inter-governmental agreement fell through.

Rafael said the missile had an inbuilt seeker, which allows the use of any of the modes: Day (CCD) and Night (IIR). At Mhow, the firing was done in the sun on CCD, and on IIR without heating of the target, using only the ambient temperature difference. “All missiles successfully engaged the target,” the statement said.

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