NEW DELHI — Russia has lodged a protest over India’s decision to disquality its two munitions systems from the $1.6 billion Army program, spurring newfound tensions between the two allies.
During a meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation in New Delhi Thursday, visiting Russia Defence Minister Gen. Sergei Shoigu made clear his displeasure about the upgraded Tunguska system and a system from Pantsir being kicked out of the pending program, a source from the India Ministry of Defence confirmed.
In October, the Indian Army officially declared Hanwha Defense Systems of South Korea as the only qualified company for the gun and missile system program. In the 2013 global tender, Indian Army shortlisted three companies — Hanwha Defense Systems, which offered its Hybrid Biho system, and Russian companies Almaz Ante, which offered its upgraded Tunguska system, and KBP Tula, which offer its Pantsir system. During the IRIGC-MTC, Gen. Shoigu accused the Indian Army trial teams of purposely not completing the full trials last year. A Russian diplomat said on condition of anonymity that the two defense companies and the Russian defense ministry issued separate letters to MoD last month to reevaluate the entire selection process before making a final call.
However, a senior Indian Army official said both the upgraded Tunguska system fielded by Almaz Ante and Pantsir by KBP Tula systems were not fully compliant during the trials. The program calls for procurement of five regiments, or 104 systems, of gun missiles systems, including 4,928 missiles and 172,260 rounds of ammunition costing $1.6 billion. The winner will have to provide full maintenance technology transfer for missiles to state-owned Ordnance Factory Board. The proposed gun and missile system should have a day and night camera functionality and a built-in simulator, and the gun should engage a target at 350 rounds per second, while the missile should have a range of five kilometers. The system should be able to operate up to 50 kilometers on a single fuel tank, and should have a minimum operation endurance of eight hours without refueling.
The Indian Army is looking for a mix of both gun and missiles mounted on one or separate high mobility vehicles. In addition, the gun as well as the missile should be able to engage aerial targets both with and without the fire control radar, either independently or simultaneously.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.