Tuesday, May 22, 2007

LiveFist EXCLUSIVE: IAF's SpyDer Purchase Was Opposed By The IDS

LiveFist has come upon some startling (or not, depending on how cynical you are!) new information concerning the IAF's recent order for 18 SpyDer LLQRM systems from Israel. Well, we'll get to the juice in a moment, but first a little bit about the purchase:

At the ritual press conference ahead of Air Force Day last year, then IAF chief Air Chief Marshal SP "Bundle" Tyagi announced that the IAF had been compelled to decide on a purchase of 18 SpyDer (Surface-to-air Python and Derby) LLQRM batteries from Israel's Rafael/Elta/IAI, the same team that builds the Barak and partners DRDO in the development of the Barak-NG. Following approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) earlier this year, the IAF has chosen to purchase the SpyDer-SR (short-range) variant, which involves four cannisterised missiles -- two each of the Python 5 and Derby -- mounted on a Tatra-truck launcher. Other components of the package include (for each battery) a truck-mounted NBC-protected command and control unit (CCU -- comprising Elta EL/M 2106 ATAR 3D Surveillance Radar), a service vehicle and a missile supply vehicle (MSV). The system is built as a quick-reaction surface to air missile defence system against aircraft, UAVs, even PGMs, according to the makers. Both the Python-5 (IIR guidance) and Derby (active radar guidance) are originally air-to-air missiles, tweaked and cannisterised for the SAM role by Rafael and IAI -- similar to what the Americans did with the AIM-120 and AIM-9, and the French, with the MICA. The Derby, incidentally, in its original air-to-air avatar is being fitted on the Navy's Sea Harriers as part of the upgrade announced in early 2005.

It was in mid-2005 that the IAF floated its requirement for 18-20 LLQRM batteries as an immediate SHORAD requirement. From the start, there were only two contenders -- the other being the French MBDA VL-MICA (the air-launched version is almost certain to be part of the Mirage-2000 upgrade). The IAF's original QR was for 12 such systems, and the outline was drawn out for systems specially configured for Indian deployment and terrain considerations. This was subsequently increased to 18 systems and a precondition for transfer of technology -- three systems purchased off the shelf and 15 built in India by a consortium encompassing BEL, BDL and a few others. This plan was finally dropped and it was decided that all 18 systems would be bought off the shelf. Despite strenuous lobbying by MBDA, including myriad memoranda including a technology tie-up with BDL for the Milan-ER, it appears that the deal fell through. The Israelis of course won't be seen organising press conferences. Their procedures are far more concealed, which is probably why they're always large and always a surprise. Anyway, following firing and targeting demonstrations in Israel and France in early 2006, the IAF chose the SpyDer and forwarded its choice to the Ministry of Defence. And this is when the trouble began.

Now, the juice:

The Integrated Defence Staff had a huge run-in with the IAF in early 2006. Headed at the time by missile and gunnery expert Vice Admiral Raman Puri, the IDS' opinion was sought by the MoD Acquisitions Wing following the IAF's decision on the SpyDer and the IDS made an impassioned response, even going as far as to orally debunk IAF Deputy Chief at the time, Air Marshal AK Nagalia, who, as the head of acquisitions at Vayu Bhawan, was fully behind the immediate purchase of LLQRM systems. In its observations, the IDS called the IAF's intentions short sighted and lacking in long-term perspective on modernisation. In its opinion, there was no reason for the IAF to use the Trishul or the Akash SAM's delays to push it's own case for yet another import. It further noted in observations that the SpyDer system was not battle-proven (it cited the example of the Barak as a parallel), was basically an air-to-air missile ensemble, implied no transfer of technology or spin-offs for local industry and would be a blackhole as far as inventory upgradation management and serviceability went. It further indicated that with the OSA-AK flights being upgraded (this was recently indicated by the Defence Minister in an action taken report submitted to Parliament), the urgency of needing precisely 18 new LLQRM batteries was overstated. Admiral Puri was also a staunch supporter of the Trishul programme, and it did not go down well with him that the IAF had repeatedly turned itself away from the programme, while parallely debunking the Akash SAM.

Well, make what you will of this! All I can say is that we're buying a helluva lot of munitions from the Israelis: Delilah II precision loitering attack missiles, Crystal Maze bombs, PopEye BVR missiles and a whole lot else.

11 comments:

Mihir said...

Just wondering... Admirals are Navy Officers, right?

Mihir said...

:D

Abhiman said...

In my view, Mr. Tyagi's statement that, "We are purchasing SPYDER...because DRDO let us down on Akash", was inexplicable.

Firstly, the Akash is NOT in the same class as Spyder, but most importantly when the former's user-trials were already scheduled in Feb this year, the "hurry" to purchase Spyder is unclear.
Also, there has been no further update on the supposed negotiations between IAF and DRDO to a consensus on the parameters for the Trishul's user-trials. Almost 9 months after the defence minister and DRDO clarified (a day after the media "trumpeted" its demise) that the development work on Trishul is over and the IAF will negoiate with DRDO to map the parameters of the user-trials of the same. It may be earnestly hoped that the same haste with which the IAF signed the Spyder contract, is also shown by the IAF to arrange the trials of the Trishul also.

Thank you.

Srirangan said...

Mountain. Molehill. What's new here?

Anonymous said...

well, an inquiry is called for..

Anonymous said...

when is the next part on ATV coming out Aroor.....I am waiting...great details and dont be scared to take the responsibility , no matter what these bastards say.and by the way you anonymous bastards where is Shiv frustrated...if he cheated on Shaili , didn't she on him by sleeping for jobs and promotions with Shivnath Thukral....and by the way its Amrita Tripathi and not Anita Tripathi....you morons....Shiv you details are great about theATV...just go on....you're on the right track...and you anon bastards Shiv was a topper in Maths and to be a good defence journo, its not just google, but a sound intelligence about everything and not just one thing

Sheena

Anonymous said...

Well, its true that when one door shuts, another one opens...

Lets hope ATV third part is a good one. If it is, then i will definetely give my 'thumbs up'.

And Sheena..It will take no time to call you a b1tch just like you call others. Mind your words.

Anonymous said...

Shiv,

Welcome to the real world. So now you are getting to see "other side" where murky deals are pushed through, local programs are used as a bali ka bakra for ad hoc imports. The Spyder comes with no tech transfer, will have no common stuff between IA, IAF, IN and is another case of IAFs import mania.

Let me give u another example. In the 80's Navy started working with DRDO to make electronic warfare items. Today, all Navys frontline ships, aircraft and even subs will carry EW items from Project sangraha. Now IAF similarly knew that its radars were getting long old and it would need to buy newer ones. It did nothing. It has asked for imports and has ordered what DRDO has already made. Now there are plans to make all the remaining types of radars. But in in the meanwhile the French and Israelis will laugh with 30-40 expensive systems imported from them.

Three cheers to the Indian Navy for having the guts to believe in local manufacture. Compare and contrast to IAF, IA.

Anonymous said...

Sheena many best wishes for your future live with Aroor ji. Amrita looks like my neighbours aunt and that is too bad (or good? I dont know)

Yours sincerely,
Anon. B. (as Sheena mohtarma has christened us) :-D

Anonymous said...

Sheena behen,

no matter what these bastards say.and by the way you anonymous bastards where is Shiv frustrated...if he cheated on Shaili , didn't she on him by sleeping for jobs and promotions with Shivnath Thukral....

that sounds like just the kind of thing to frustrate a normal human being..


and you anon bastards Shiv was a topper in Maths

and I bet he was also John Rambo but to get enlightened he gave up geeky math and Rambogiri and became a journalist, ie desi dork media


and to be a good defence journo, its not just google, but a sound intelligence about everything and not just one thing

Eggjactly, we have been trying to make shiv aroor understand that, but he is only googling and not using his brains. Hard, naa?

Ramprakash Chautala (ab hum anonymous nahin hain)

PS: How does one become journalist?

Is there any exam? Or do u just get hired after doing 1 2 ka 4 degree in arts? just curious :-)

Abhiman said...

It was only now that I read the article in full compared to the earlier brief perusal.

It has been conclusively proven that the Trishul and Akash were purposely neglected by the IAF in favour of the "immediately needed" Israeli missiles.

This may only point to corruption within the IAF. The manner in which the IAF has delayed the user-trials of the Trishul and Akash for over a year respectively in stark contrast with the hurried purchase of the Israeli missile cannot mean anything but corruption and vested interests to halt and dither the induction of any indigenous developed system.

Aided and abetted by the media, the IAF gets purposes to justify their actions in front of the public.

Thank you.