India scrapped a $500 million deal for the purchase of Spike anti-tank missiles from Israel's state-run Rafale Advanced Defense Systems after Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) promises to deliver Indian made alternative in two years.
Israel authorities were informed by the Indian officials about the contract being annulled in favour of DRDO as it claimed that with a partnership with VEM technologies Ltd, it would develop a similar missile at a lower price, reported the Indian Express.
Officials also told the newspaper that the production of domestic missiles by DRDO was favoured due to the fast progressive second stage of testing Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM). DRDO claimed, according to the report, that the MPATGM was successfully test-fired at the Admednagar range last September.
India's defence deal with Israeli arms company, Rafale was originally proposed in 2014 to procure more than 8000 Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM). The deal also included the manufacturing 3000 missile systems in India through the Defence Make in India initiative.
However, the contract was cancelled in 2017 by the Ministry of Defence to push for indigenous development of MPATGMs instead. It was only after the deal was changed to a government-government transaction in 2018 that led to the finalisation of procuring 4,500 weapons systems directly with a small section of its quantity being manufactured in Hyderabad last year.
Apart from the Israeli uproar, officials have also stated that the defence acquisition was delayed due to the controversy surrounding the purchase of Rafale fighter jet that was disputed by the Congress party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The reason for the delay that was then stated was that Spike missiles needed to undergo further tests to examine the missile's performance in hot temperature environment, especially in the country's western deserts adjoining Pakistan as per TIE reports.
While military officials have expressed their doubts regarding DRDO's claim on meeting its promised deadline and operational requirements, the defence research organisation has said that it would deliver the MPATGM by 2021. It was also said that it would deliver the missiles the same time rafale would have delivered had India gone ahead with the deal, reported TIE.