In a shocking and a bold move, Israel's Rafael Advanced Defence Systems made snarky remarks about DRDO's anti-tank missile (ATGM) while making a procurement pitch for its Spike LR ATGM. The pitch comes just a day after the Indian Army successfully test-fired the Spike LR missile, but DRDO's response shows the defence R&D division isn't happy with Rafael's comments.
In the press release on Thursday, Rafael belittled India's anti-tank missile in comparison with its Spike missile. "With confidence in the Spike missile established, the Indian Army may need to revisit their plans" to develop its own ATGM.
Rafael is taking a dig at India's recent decision to boot a $500-million purchase of Spike LR missiles. Instead, the Indian Army procured a limited quantity of Spike LR missiles in order to fulfil the urgent operational requirement. The reason for cancelling the deal last minute was the DRDO's decision to develop and supply an indigenous ATGM, Army chief General Bipin Rawat had said in January last year.
Following the successful test of Spike LR missiles by the Indian Army, Rafael thought it would be wise to share some procurement tips. "Both the DRDO's ATGM programme, as well as the invitation to Indian industry to develop a 3rd Gen missile will need a rethink, as having a 4th Gen missile will put the plan for the development of a 3rd Gen missile questionable," Rafael stated in a press release.
Further, in its procurement pitch, Rafael drew some of its own comparisons between Spike LR missile and DRDO's ATGM. Rafael said the Spike LR is a 4th gen missile, which doesn't require the firer to launch and keep the enemy tank in the crosshairs until impact. Rafael takes pride in more than 95 percent overall hit percentage with over 5,000 fired missiles worldwide. The Spike LRs also have the capability to switch targets mid-flight.
While it is uncommon for a foreign vendor to give such bold statements talking down India's defence systems, DRDO didn't just sit by to watch the spectacle. To what appears to be a lengthy press release, DRDO responded to it with a tweet.
DRDO's ATGM programme is currently underway and making good progress. India's indigenous missiles are expected to be ready by 2022.