Sources said the Indian Army is reconsidering the purchase of the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system — similar to this battery positioned near Haifa, Israel — because Israel may transfer technology for the project. (Agence France-Presse)
NEW DELHI — After failing to buy sound ranging systems (SRS) from the global market, India’s Defence Ministry will send a fresh tender next month to domestic companies only.
The indigenous firms include state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL), which in turn will tie up with overseas companies to supply 34 of the systems at a cost of more than US $120 million, said Defence Ministry sources.
The first tender was canceled in 2008 because none of the bidders could meet requirements.
The Army would use the acoustic capabilities of the SRSs to locate enemy artillery to supplement the US-made AN/TPQ-37 weapon-locating radars bought in 2001. But maintenance on these radars has become costly because of a lack of spare parts, said Army sources.
The Army wants the SRS to be able to locate mortars at a distance of 10 kilometers, 105mm artillery at a distance of 15 kilometers and 130mm artillery at a distance of 20 kilometers. Under normal weather conditions, the system should be able to locate 60 percent of enemy artillery, said an Army official.
The SRS locates enemy weapons by the sound of their gunfire. It is designed for plains and desert terrain. The sound signals are then directed to surveillance and target acquisition units to direct return fire, explained the Army official.
The tender to be sent to BEL and ECIL stipulates that the SRS should be compact, man-portable, able to be rapidly deployed and function under rugged conditions.
The tender will specify that the SRS should be computer controlled, based on advanced microprocessors and able to be loaded with digital map data in field conditions.
In addition to using sound ranging and weapon-locating radars, the Indian Army is reconsidering the purchase of the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system, said Defence Ministry sources. The revisit on Iron Dome was prompted by the possibility that Israel would transfer technology for the project, said a source.
In February, Indian Air Force Chief Air Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne told reporters at the Aero India air show in Bangalore that the Iron Dome is not suitable for the service.
India and Israel have been discussing the purchase of Iron Dome and the David’s Sling air defense system for more than two years.
David’s Sling is jointly produced by Raytheon of the US and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems; Iron Dome is manufactured by Rafael.
The Indian Army official said Iron Dome can detect and engage the Nasr, Pakistan’s tactical nuclear missile with a range of 60 kilometers.