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Gov't Turns to Indian Firms To Untangle T-90 Missile Woes

Dec. 12, 2013 - 04:04PM   |  
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI   |   Comments
Missile Dispute: India is seeking help from local companies to aid in developing guidance electronics for the missile fired from the Army's T-90 tanks.
Missile Dispute: India is seeking help from local companies to aid in developing guidance electronics for the missile fired from the Army's T-90 tanks. (Agence France-Presse)
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NEW DELHI — A dispute with Russia over technology transfer for the Invar anti-tank missile has prompted India’s Bharat Dynamics Ltd. (BDL) to contact domestic companies to help develop the missile’s critical guidance electronics.

The Russians refused to give India the technology for the guidance system for the missile, which will be fired from India’s Russian-made T-90 tanks, despite agreeing to the transfer for licensed production of the missiles, according to a BDL official.

The Indian government approved an Army proposal in October 2012 to acquire 20,000 Invar missiles, but the contract had to wait until August because the government insisted on technology transfer.

The Russians agreed to grant a license for production of the missile and the transfer of technology in August, when a US $470 million contract was signed, the BDL official said.

State-owned BDL, which will manufacture the Invar missiles, has not been given the key technology for the missile’s laser beam-riding guidance system, the official said.

“Usually, the contract with the Russians, or for that matter the French Milan anti-tank guided missiles, includes transferring the production process, including the details like chemical composition and process for propellant and warhead,” the official said. “However, in the case of the Invar missile, no technology transfer has been given for the laser beam-riding guidance.”

But according to a diplomat at the Russian Embassy here, “The technology for the guidance system was not part of the agreement.”

BDL has decided to approach domestic industry to develop the critical guidance electronics for the Invar. Domestic private sector companies, including Larsen & Toubro, Tata Power SED and Godrej, will be asked to collaborate with BDL to develop the laser beam-riding guidance system.

India signed the contract to buy the Invar missiles for the T-90 because the Army said there was a critical missile shortage, an Indian Ministry of Defence source said.

The Invar has a range of five kilometers and a tandem warhead that penetrates a tank’s armor up to 35 inches before detonating.

Fired from the 125mm gun of the T-90 tank, the missile is guided along a laser beam that can be controlled by the tank gunner. BDL has been manufacturing the Invar under technical collaboration with Russia’s Rosoboronexport, but it wants the technology for the laser guidance.

India fast-tracked the purchase of ammunition, including the Invar, after former Army Chief Gen. V.K. Singh warned the MoD in 2011 of a critical shortage of ammunition.

India placed its first order for 310 T-90s in 2001, and thereafter began licensed production of the tanks at the state-owned Heavy Vehicles Factory.

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