NEW DELHI – Negotiations are "nearly completed" for the United States and India to jointly produce the Javelin Anti-Tank Guided Missile, according to an Indian Ministry of Defense source.
The two countries have been exploring for several years potential teaming arrangements for certain weapons and equipment, thereby elevating the Indo-US defense relationship to a higher level.
"With US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter being a strong sponsor of the Javelin program for India, there is a possibility of an approval by Washington," says Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army Brigadier and defense analyst.
Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division (SED), a Tata Group company, already has formalized a relationship with US based Javelin Joint Ventures with the aim of creating a strategy to co-develop and produce the javelin missile system.
"Letter of Intent [LoI] has been signed for co-development and co-production (of Javelin) in India between Tata Power SED and the Javelin Joint Ventures (JJV)," says Rahul Chaudhry, CEO , Tata Power SED.
Co-production is for the advanced generation of Javelin ATGM. The deal would cover the "FGM -148 Javelin, which is also being inducted into US forces from JJV factories in the US," Chaudhry added.
"While pricing could remain an issue, this would not prevent Tata Power SED being a sourcing agency for components of Javelin being sold globally by the US manufacturing duo Lockheed Martin and Raytheon," Bhonsle
The Americans have so far been reluctant to part with the latest generation of technology for Javelin, but the MoD source said Washington has now agreed to part with new-generation Javelin for co-production in India.
In 2010, India had come very close to purchasing the Javelin weapon, which has range of 2.5 kilometers, through the Foreign Military Sales route, but the US refused to transfer technology for the system and the
proposal ultimately fell through.
In 2014 MoD selected Israeli Spike ATGM but the deal has still not been inked because the price negotiating committee of the MoD has not agreed to the terms and conditions of price and maintenance costs from Rafael of Israel. However, the Spike deal remains alive, the MoD source said.
The demand by the Indian army for variety of anti-tank guided missiles is large as it wants to equip all its 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanized infantry units with new-generation weapons and replace the second- generation French-made Milan missile.
"Indian Army needs over 20,000 hand held new generation ATGMs," a senior Indian army official said.
Besides, India's home-grown Nag ATGM, which is vehicle- mounted, is also in advanced stages of testing.
"The Javelin will not hit either the home-grown Nag or the Israeli Spike program, as there is room for all these ATGMs," the MoD source added.
Bhonsle said," There will be a time lag between induction of an Indo-American Javelin, thus Spike will remain on the acquisition book, Nag remains a technology demonstrator so far and unless it is proved in operational trials will not be a serious future contender."