US Marines fire a Stinger launch simulator during familiarization training aboard the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge on Oct. 2. (Sgt. Christopher Q. Stone/Marine Corps)
NEW DELHI — India has halted the procurement process for a very-short-range air defense (VSHORAD) system while the Defence Ministry considers a Raytheon proposal to sell the Stinger on a government-to-government basis, an Indian Army source said.
The original VSHORAD tender of 2010 has not been shelved, added the source, but if the Raytheon proposal is accepted, it could be canceled.
Saab, MBDA and Rosoboronexport are competing in response to the tender and are awaiting the downselect since completing the requisite trials nearly a year ago. Army sources said Saab is the frontrunner after the trials.
Raytheon’s proposal to supply the Stinger system was received nearly three months ago, the source said, and the Defence Ministry began seriously considering it after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington in September, the source said.
While no Raytheon executive here would comment whether the Stinger offer has been made, the source said Raytheon has even proposed a possible joint development of the Stinger VSHORAD system with India’s state-owned Bharat Dynamics.
The Stinger would also form part of the package for the 22 Apache attack helicopters the Air Force selected. Boeing’s Apache edged out Russia’s Mi-28 for the US $1.2 billion Air Force contract last year.
India is also considering mounting Stinger missiles on the 210 Mi-17 helicopters the Air Force has contracted with Russia, the source said.
Under the government’s existing proposal, the Army plans to buy 5,175 VSHORAD systems with technology transfer expected. Out of these, 2,300 systems would be acquired fully built, 1,260 in a partially constructed condition, and the remaining will be license-produced in India.
The VSHORAD system must be able to engage aerial targets day and night, have an effective range of 6 kilometers and be able to strike targets at an altitude greater than 3,000 meters. The Army wants to replace its aging Russian-made Igla air defense systems and wants a manportable VSHORAD weighing less than 25 kilograms.
An executive with one of the competitors claimed that its system far exceeded the Staff Qualitative Requirements, adding that they are awaiting the results of the downselect after the trials.