Jatinder Kaur Tur, TNN Nov 14, 2013, 12.01PM IST
HYDERABAD: The joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Israeli Aerospace Industry to manufacture Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LR SAM) and Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MR-SAM) has turned out to be a non-starter.
The long range missiles were to have been delivered to the Indian Navy by 2012 while the medium range missiles should be in the Indian Air Force weaponry by 2017. However, both the delivery schedules are way behind schedule and show no signs of meeting them even in the near future.DRDO officials are blaming the lack of progress in the joint venture due to lack of transparency and non-transfer of technology by their Israeli counterparts. And the recent trials that were conducted by the Indian defence organization failed to meet the standards of both the IAF and the Indian Navy. The entire cost of Rs 12,500 crore of the joint venture is being funded by India and the inordinate delay and lack of progress in the project has turned into a big cause of worry in the defence ministry.
According to sources, the LR-SAMs project was commissioned in 2006 and the delivery of the missiles to the Indian Navy should have happened by 2012. Similarly, the MR-SAM venture was signed in 2009 and the missiles are to be delivered to the Indian Air Force by 2017. Both both the projects are way behind schedule and show no signs of making progress.
“Frankly speaking, right now, not much is going on in the joint venture due to various issues between the two sides. Expecting Israel to share its technology with India is unfair. But such things should have been clarified before the joint venture was entered into,” said an official.
DRDO is maintaining that it is because of the lack of transfer of technology that the trials conducted so far have ended up as failures. “Industries are merely getting the drawings as to how to produce certain systems and such things are leading to deviations from the laid down specifications because the knowledge to develop the systems is not being imparted,” said sources.
DRDO officials are also attributing the delay to a complicated and long procedure involving shuttling between India and Israel for various stages of development of a system etc. The Hyderabad-based Indian defence organization also reportedly found itself helpless on problems in propulsion system and other related issues while a significant number of parts or systems are yet to be tested following a delay in manufacturing.
However, when quizzed on the issue, DRDO Director General Avinash Chander told the TOI that nothing was amiss. “Everything is going on as per the plan and development trials are on. We shall be able to deliver the MR-SAMs as per schedule. Right now, the contribution from India in the joint venture project is about 20% and would ultimately reach 80% in the final stages.” Regarding the already delayed LR-SAM, DRDO officials declined to come on record.
MR-SAM, one of the major demands of the forces, is to have a range of 70 kms or so, and the IAF is banking on replacing its ageing Soviet-made Pechora SAM missiles with the MR-SAMs. But nobody is sure how long the wait is going to be, and whether the delivery will take place at all.