India & Israel’s Barak-8 SAM Development Project(s)
Dec 17/13: Update. India’s Ministry of Defense provides updates regarding a number of DRDO projects, including LR-SAM. The development program’s original delivery target was May 2011, but the Probable Date of Completion is now December 2015: 4 1/2 years late, and well after it becomes fully operational in Israel. Sources: India MoD, “DRDO Projects”.
Over a development timeline measured in decades, India’s indigenous “Akash” and “Trishul” programs for surface to air missiles have failed to inspire full confidence. Trishul was eventually canceled entirely. Akash had a a long, difficult development period, but seems to have found customer acceptance and a solid niche in the rugged terrain of the northeast. India still needed longer-range advanced SAMs to equip its navy and army, however, and decided to try to duplicate the success of the partnership model that had fielded the excellent Indo-Russian PJ-10 BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
In February 2006, therefore, Israel and India signed a joint development agreement to create a new Barak-NG medium shipborne air defense missile, as an evolution of the Barak-1 system in service with both navies. In July 2007 the counterpart MR-SAM project began moving forward, aiming to develop a medium range SAM for use with India’s land forces. Both missiles would now be called Barak-8. In between, “India to Buy Israeli “SPYDER” Mobile Air Defense System” covered India’s move to begin buying mobile, short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems for its army, based on the Python and Derby air-to-air missiles in service with its air force and naval aircraft. These projects offer India a way forward to address its critical air defense weaknesses, and upgrade “protection of vital and strategic ground assets and area air defence.” This DID FOCUS article will cover the Barak-8 and closely related programs in India, Israel, and beyond.
The Barak, and Barak-8
Barak is a supersonic, vertically-launched short range air defense system, with an operational range of about 10 km/ 6 miles. That pushes it past the standard ranges of shoulder-launched options with naval counterparts, like the MBDA Mistral/SIMBAD or Saab Boofors’ RBS-70, but short of other small vertical launch options like the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow. Its closest western competitors on the international market are probably Raytheon’s horizontally-fired Amero-German RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile, and MBDA’s flexible Crotale VT-1/NG. Key attributes include a compact 8-cell vertical launching system that weighs just 1,700 kg, coupled with an equally compact 1,300 kg fire control system. This makes it easier to install in small ships, and to retrofit into older vessels.
Barak-1 reportedly in service with at Israel, Chile, India, Singapore, and Venezuela.
India bought over $300 million worth of these missiles as a substitute for the indigenous but long-delayed Trishul (“Trident”) missile project, and Barak systems now equip India’s lone aircraft carrier INS Viraat, all 6 Project 16/16A Godavari/ Brahmaputra Class 3,850t frigates, 2 of 6 Rajput Class 4,974t destroyers, and the 3 new 6,200t Shivalik Class frigates. Current missile stocks aren’t adequate to cover that, and readiness requires regular training launches against live targets. Barak-1 missiles are also supposed to be part of upgrades to India’s 3 Delhi Class 6,200t destroyers, in order to remove the hole created by the Russian SA-N-7C ‘Gollum’ air defense missile system’s limited firing arc.
Barak-1 missiles are also supposed to be part of upgrades to India’s 3 Delhi Class 6,200t destroyers, in order to fix the SA-N-7C ‘Gollum’ air defense missile’s limited firing arc. The missile’s fast response time, effectiveness against missile threats, and compact size are considerable assets, but they are currently offset somewhat by its short range.
The Navy’s Barak-NG/ LR-SAM project aimed to give India’s naval defenses a much longer reach, with the intention of eventually making it India’s primary naval SAM. The project was later renamed Barak 8. According to Defense News, the project features funding from American military aid dollars, as well as Indian cooperation and private/governmental funding in Israel. An Israeli source, on the other hand, has told DID that the USA has no claim on the Barak-8′s intellectual property. DID has been unable to verify he exact situation; but if the USA has no IP or significant American-made components in the Barak AMD system, it would have implications for both procurement funding sources and export policy.
The Barak 8 missile reportedly extends its range to 60-70 km/ up to 42 miles, thanks to a dual-pulse solid rocket motor whose second “pulse” fires as the missile approaches its target. This ensures that the missile isn’t just coasting in the final stages, giving it more than one chance at a fast, maneuvering target.
The missile’s most important feature may be its active seeker. Instead of forcing its ship or land-based radar to “paint”/illuminate its target at all times, the Barak 8 can be left alone once it is close to its target. This is an excellent approach for dealing with saturation attacks using older ship radars, which can track many targets but illuminate just a few. It’s also very useful for land-based systems, which will survive longer against enemy anti-radar missiles (ARMs) if they can turn themselves on and off to confuse enemy seekers, without worrying that they will lose all of their effectiveness.
That kind of performance vaults the Barak 8 past widespread options like the RIM-162 ESSM, or entries like VL-MICA on land. Though the Barak-8 may compete globally with those systems, a better comparison would be naval missiles like Raytheon’s SM-2 Block IIIA and MBDA’s Aster-15, or land-based options like the Patriot. The Barak 8′s active seeker would even give it a performance advantage over the SM-2, and corresponds more closely to the SM-6 currently in development. One wild card is the Barak’s potential use in a point defense role against ballistic missiles, a role that can be played by some of its more advanced competitors on land or sea. This capability is implied in the land-based system’s name, but has not been discussed publicly or validated in publicly announced tests.
The naval Barak-8 reportedly maintains its principle of using compact launchers and systems. Reports regarding its range vary from 70-120 km. Its ancillary capabilities will always depend on the radar and combat system aboard its ship.
The land-based Barak 8 Air and Missile Defense (AMD) system includes several components:
- RAFAEL supplies the Barak-8 interceptor missile, which remains vertically launched.
- The battle management, command, control, communication and intelligence center (BMC4I) is produced by the MBT Division of IAI’s Missiles, Systems, and Space Group; it offers both stand alone operation for a single fire unit, and joint task force coordination (JTC).
- IAI ELTA Systems Ltd. supplies the Land-Based Multi-Function Surveillance, Track & Guidance Radar (LB-MF-STAR), a rotating S-band digital Active Electronic Steering Array (AESA) Radar System that can deliver an accurate, high quality arena situation picture, and extract low radar cross section targets like stealthy cruise missiles, even in the toughest environmental conditions. The naval MF-STAR is expected to be part of Israel’s next-generation missile frigates.
In Israel, the Barak-8 is slated to equip its next-generation frigates, and may find its way to other roles. India expects to field the missiles on land and sea. Beyond those 2 countries, export prospects beckon for a missile that may offer a value-priced naval alternative to Raytheon’s Standard-2 and MBDA’s Aster-15.
India’s Barak Programs
The Navy: LR-SAM
India has 2 different programs that could use the new longer-range Barak missile. The naval Barak-NG, or LR-SAM deal, was the first. Signed in 2006, it’s worth INR 26.06 billion (about $591 million at then-conversion) as of December 2009.
India’s Navy has decided as a matter of policy that it will only mount medium-long range surface-to-air missile systems on future warships, as opposed to depending on short range systems that might protect a ship, but don’t offer layered defense for the rest of the fleet. This was an early sign of its transition to a more of a “blue water” navy that can reach into high-threat areas, and a logical complement to India’s establishment of a serious carrier force beginning with INS Vikramaditya (ex Admiral Gorshkov).
Hence the 2006 Barak-NG naval agreement, which gives India an upgraded version of a familiar system, extends India’s technological capabilities, fosters economic ties and integration at sub-component levels, and helps the Israelis build a new system that meets some of their own emerging requirements. The new system would reportedly have a range of 50-60 km.
Making that happen required some loosening of bureaucratic constraints on India’s defense industry. Based on projections of need and the high cost of air defense systems, India’s Ministry of Defence began initiatives under which Indian state-owned agencies can forge joint co-development and co-production ventures with foreign companies. The rationale is that under these partnerships, much of the underlying technology will remain in India. Israel has risen to become one of India’s largest defense industry partners, and may be on its way to surpassing Russia as India’s largest partner.
That rise, India’s previous positive experiences with Barak, and the opportunity to help develop new technologies instead of buying them, all led India toward Israel for its next-generation naval SAM partnership.
Israel Aerospace Industries will be the key partner, and will contribute most of the applicable technology, just as Russia did for the BrahMos by offering its SS-N-26 Oniks missile as the base platform. 2011 Barak-8 materials show Indian firms contributing the dual-pulse rocket motor, associated motor arming/safing mechanisms, and the pneumatic actuation system. On the other hand, India Defence reports that IAI and its Israeli partners have agreed to transfer all relevant technologies and manufacturing capabilities to India.
The LR-SAM project is now slated for completion by December 2015, which would be about a decade from its 2005 project approval to fielding. Israel will be ahead of that schedule, as they began steps to field Barak-8 in their navy by mid-2013.
The Barak-8′s follow-on project involves a land-based system, intended to replace old Russian systems. Most reports place MR-SAM’s desired capabilities at 70 km/ 42 mile range effective range, with 360 degree coverage, plus the ability to engage multiple targets simultaneously. As The Times of India put it, in 2007:
“The project is crucial because, as highlighted by TOI earlier, there are still “many gaping holes” in India’s radar network and the armed forces only have near-obsolete air defence units like Russian Pechora [DID: upgraded SA-3], OSA-AK [DID: SA-8B, scheduled for interim upgrades], and Igla [DID: SA-16 shoulder-fired] missile systems.
Sources peg the MR-SAM project as an extension of the ongoing DRDO-Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) project, launched in January 2006 at a cost of $480 million, to develop a supersonic 60-km Barak-NG (new-generation) missile defence system for Navy.”
India Defence and the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz also reported that MR-SAM would be an extension of work done on the Barak-NG deal, and this seems to be the general consensus.
The DRDO Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will be the ‘prime developer’ for the MR-SAM project, which will reportedly have a Rs 2,300 crore (INR 23 billion, about $445 million at signing in 2009) indigenous component within an estimated Rs 10,075 crore (INR 100.75 billion, about $1.95 billion at signing) total. The 4-5 year project aims to provide India’s military with 9 advanced air defense squadrons, each with 2 MR-SAM firing units. Each MR-SAM unit, in turn, would consist of a command and control center, an acquisition radar, a guidance radar, and 3 launchers with 8 missiles each.
MR-SAM’s total would therefore be 10 C2 centers, 18 acquisition radars, 18 guidance radars, and 54 launchers, armed with 432 ready-to-fire missiles. Some reports have placed total missile orders as high as 2,000, which would add a significant reserve stockpile to replenish missiles in any conflict.
Indian sources estimated a 4-year, $300 million System Design & Development phase to develop unique system elements, and produce an initial tranche of the land-based missiles. As of its approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security in July 2007, MR-SAM surpassed the BrahMos project in size, and may be the largest joint defense development project ever undertaken between India and any other country.
The MR-SAM project reportedly has a “probable date of completion” by August 2016, which would be around 7 years from its 2009 approval.
Contracts & Key Events
2010 – 2013
Barak-8 development & testing continues; Azerbaijan sale?; Akash missile expands Indian footprint; Indian RFI for immediate MR-SAM option.
Dec 23/13: DAC OK. AK Antony and the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) clear the Indian Navy’s intent to buy 262 more Barak-1 missiles, in order to replenish their fast-dwindling stocks. The paper adds:
“The naval LR-SAM, approved in December 2005, is now slated for completion by December 2015. The MR-SAM project, sanctioned in February 2009, in turn, has a “probable date of completion” by August 2016.”
Sources: Times of India, “Antony finally clears long-pending controversial deal for Israeli Barak missiles.”
Dec 17/13: Update. India’s Ministry of Defense provides updates regarding a number of DRDO projects, including LR-SAM. The development program’s original delivery target was May 2011, but the Probable Date of Completion is now December 2015: 4 1/2 years late, and well after it becomes fully operational in Israel. Sources: India MoD, “DRDO Projects”.
Nov 14/13: Stall. India’s LR-SAM and MR-SAM projects are stalled, even as Israel moves to deploy the Barak-8 at sea. The Barak-8 was supposed to be delivered for LR-SAM by 2012, and is supposed to go to the IAF as MR-SAM by 2017. Unfortunately, drawings for components aren’t enough to let Indian firms produce them properly, and:
“Frankly speaking, right now, not much is going on in the joint venture due to various issues between the two sides. Expecting Israel to share its technology with India is unfair. But such things should have been clarified before the joint venture was entered into,” said an official…. DRDO officials are also attributing the delay to a complicated and long procedure involving shuttling between India and Israel for various stages of development of a system etc… [DRDO] also reportedly found itself helpless on problems in propulsion system and other related issues while a significant number of parts or systems are yet to be tested following a delay in manufacturing.”
So, to sum up: contract terms that didn’t provide clear mechanisms to enable Indian production from the baseline they’re actually at, Indian DRDO bureaucracy in the way of development and not delivering on key items, and manufacturing issues that have created Indian testing delays. While Israel fields the missile. DRDO Director General Avinash Chander wouldn’t comment on LR-SAM, which is already late, but he said MR-SAM remained on schedule for 2017. Sources: Times of India, “India-Israel joint venture to manufacture missiles fails to take off”.
July 31/13: Israeli installation. India may give the Barak-8 LR-SAM’s date of probable completion as 2015, but Israel intends to have the missile installed on its 3 Sa’ar 5 Eilat Class corvettes before the end of 2013.
The move is reportedly being made in response to Syria’s deployment of SS-N-26/ P-800 Yakhont supersonic anti-ship missiles, with a range of up to 180 miles. Some of the missiles reportedly survived a major Israeli strike, and Hezbollah’s leading role in the Syrian Civil War sharpens concerns about a transfer to Iran’s 21st-century Condor Legion. Incoming supersonic missiles will compress the Barak-8′s range, but its 60-70 km base range remains a large improvement over the Barak-1′s base 10-12 km. Arming the Eilat Class with the navy’s first wide-area air defense technology is a good backup move while Israel looks to determine the true state of Syria’s P-800 missiles, and if necessary, to target them for a final strike. Israel HaYom | UPI | China’s Xinhua.
Israel deploying Barak-8
March 18/13: An India MoD release offers a list of late DRDO projects, along with a voluminous list of excuses. Credit of some kind is due for not using “the dog ate our blueprints,” but every other issue one normally expects in projects of this nature can be found. LR-SAM is one of the listed projects, and its Probable Date of Completion has slipped from May 2011 to December 2015.
Dec 18/12: LR-SAM. India’s MoD offers quick year-end reviews for a number of key programs. With respect to LR-SAM, it says that:
“Control and Navigation Tests (CNT) for LRSAM, a joint development Programme between DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industry (IAI), to develop an Advanced Naval Air Defence System for Indian Navy) were conducted on 16th and 18th July 2012. All Planned mission objectives were fully met in both the tests. The missiles showed good navigation and control performance. DRDO is the Prime Development Agency and IAI the design authority for supply, installation and final acceptance.”
Development was pegged at 5 years under the original 2006 LR-SAM deal, so they’re late. MR-SAM isn’t mentioned, but LR-SAM missile tests are also effectively MR-SAM missile tests.
Dec 5/12: LR-SAM MoU. Israel Aerospace Industries and India’s state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU), concerning their cooperation on future LR-SAM ship-defence system projects.
IAI already has a number of arrangements in place with Indian firms. Under this MoU, BEL will function as the Lead Integrator, ultimately taking over DRDO’s role once the missile is developed, and will produce major sub-systems. IAI will continue to act as the system’s Design Authority, and to produce sub-systems as a main sub-contractor of BEL. IAI.
Feb 26/12: Azerbaijan. Israel and Azerbaijan sign a government to government deal for a range of military equipment, including UAVs and “missile defense systems.”
The Caspian Sea’s gas and oil resources are increasing tensions in the region, and Russia’s recent hostility with Georgia has also roiled the waters. From 2008 to the present, SIRPI’s database confirms that Israel has become a significant supplier of military equipment to Azerbaijan, including artillery, UAVs, and anti-tank and anti-ship missiles. Russia and Ukraine are even more significant suppliers, transferring attack helicopters, artillery, missiles, armored vehicles – and long-range S-300 air defense missile systems.
Subsequent reports from SIRPI indicate that this $1.6 billion deal may contain up to 75 Barak-8 missiles, and an EL/M-2080 Green Pine long-range radar. That diversity of long-range systems would complicate planning for an attacker, and offers some insurance. Israel may even get more than just money from this. Depending on that Green Pine radar’s positioning, it should be able to see a long way into Iran’s airspace. Ha’aretz | News.Az.
June 3/11: Industrial. Livefist shows an India DRDO presentation that helps break down technology responsibilities within the Barak-8. Indian firms will contribute the pneumatic actuator, dual-pulse rocket motor, and motor arming/safing technologies.
April 13/11: MR-SAM gap-filler RFI. IANS reports that India’s MoD has issued a request for information (RFI) from global and domestic missile manufacturers, asking them if they could supply the medium range air defense missile within a short time-frame to the Indian Air Force (IAF), for defense of vital installations. Submitted systems must be capable of all-weather, all-terrain, day/night operation with a 3.5 km altitude ceiling, and able to engage multiple targets that include a range of aerial enemies.
The RFI is ahead of a tender for the purchase of medium-range surface-to-air (MRSAM) missiles, and the emergency buy would reportedly be over and above the 18 MR-SAM units that India is buying from Israel in the 2009 deal. The near-term timeline would appear to disqualify the Barak-8, preventing tri-service acceptance. Obvious Air Force contenders would include India’s own Akash, and offerings from MBDA (VL-MICA), Kongsberg/Raytheon (SLAMRAAM/NASAMS, possibly Patriot PAC-3 as well), Russia (TOR-M2E, SA-20/S-300 PMU2 possible), and IAI/RAFAEL (Spyder MR-SAM variant, complementing the SR-SAM variant India has already ordered).
Aug 9/10: Defence Minister Shri AK Antony updates the status of various missile programs, in a Parliamentary reply to Shri SB Wankhede and Shri AP Shivaji. Trishul and Akash aren’t mentioned at all; the former presumably owing to its cancellation, the latter because it may no longer be a development program. LR-SAM’s ballistic flight trials was undertaken in May 2010. MR-SAM’s preliminary design has been carried out, along with “pre-tender briefing to all prospective vendors.”
Feb 2/10: Akash up, opportunity down. India increases its Akash SAM buy to 1,000, and will deploy them in the rugged terrain of the northeast as SA-3 replacements. The INR 42.79 billion (about $925 million) contract will buy 6 squadrons of Akash medium-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) from state-run Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL). This 750 missile order follows an INR 12.21 billion (about $250 million) order for 2 initial squadrons with 250 missiles total, back in January 2009.
Delivery under this order is expected between 2012-2015, stabilizing Akash as a shorter-range complement to the MR-SAM and affirming the IAF’s confidence. That confidence doesn’t endanger the MR-SAM project, but it removes the expansion possibilities that would have been created by full cancellation, or a limited 2-squadron Akash program. The Hindu | Indian Express | Times of India | Times Now | Bloomberg | India’s Business Times.
2006 – 2009
LR-SAM and MR-SAM deals signed; Budgets; Competition by the back door?
Dec 14/09: Confirmed. Defence Minister Shri AK Antony offers a program update, in a written Parliamentary reply to Shri Asaduddin Owaisi:
“Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO) has undertaken joint development of missiles, Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LRSAM) for Indian navy and Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) for Indian Air Force with M/s Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), Israel. The cost of project for LRSAM is Rs. 2606.02 crore and cost of project for MRSAM is Rs. 10075 crore. Both the missiles being developed are comparable in performance and cost to missiles available in their class in the world market.”
Given conversion rates at contract time, that means $1.95 billion for MR-SAM, and $560.8 million for LR-SAM.
Indian deals & budgets
Nov 9/09: MR-SAM. Reports surface again that Israel and India have signed a deal for the Barak-8 missile system, which appears to be the Army’s MR-SAM project. Indian reports quote an Israel official, who says that India signed a $1.1 billion contract in April 2009, with delivery expected by 2017.
Islamabad’s The Daily Mail claim that the deal is $1.4 billion, and involves 2,000 Barak-8 missiles for land and naval forces. India has significant industrial offset laws, and The Daily Mail reports that IAI will make offsetting purchases from Tata equal to 33% of the contract. These would almost certainly include Tata trucks for the land-based Barak-8 AMD, as well as purchases and partnerships involving Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. (TASL), whose collaboration may also include the development, licensed manufacture, or operation of UAVs, radars, electronic warfare systems and homeland security systems.
Nov 8/09: Outlook India, from Jerusalem:
“As India and Israel move to deepen their military ties, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor arrived here on a key visit where he is scheduled to hold talks with top military officials.
General Kapoor will hold discussions with senior defence officials as ‘part of regular ongoing exchanges’ to tighten bilateral defence ties. The three-day visit will also allay fears that the CBI enquiry into controversial [original naval Barak-1] missile deal may disrupt the robust defence ties between the two countries.”
See also: UPI report.
June 10/09: MR-SAM contract? Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announces that it has recently signed a contract to “develop and supply the land-based Barak 8 Air and Missile Defense (AMD) System to a foreign customer.” The customer is not named. See also March 26/09 entry.
May 12/09: Barak-8. Israel Aerospace Industries unveils a full-scale mockup of the Barak 8 surface to air missile (SAM) for the first time at Singapore’s IMDEX 2009 maritime defense show. Barak 8 is co-developed for use by India, and also destined to equip Israel’s next missile frigates. It appears to be an active-homing missile, too, an ability that current American SM-2 missiles lack, but which the SM-6 under development will have. Aviation Week Ares:
“Key features of the 70 km-range Barak 8 missile are an active radar seeker and a dual-pulse solid rocket motor. The first motor pulse propels the weapon through most of its trajectory while the second fires as the missile approaches its target, giving it the energy necessary to defeat evasive action or random weaving. The active seeker means that the missile is autonomous in the endgame, leaving the ship’s radar free to track [DID: illuminate, actually - many passive radars can track hundreds of targets, but illuminate just a couple at a time for targeting] other targets. The missile launcher comprises an eight-round module, three or more of which could make up a typical system.”
Barak-8: early details
March 30/09: MR-SAM corruption? An Indian media story carried by DNA alleges that a senior Indian Air Force officer was instrumental in reducing India’s buy of the DRDO’s long Akash missile project from 8 squadrons to 2, and is now doing work related to MR-SAM for Israeli firms following his retirement from service:
“Without naming the officer, Defence Research & Development Organisation chief M Natarajan told a press conference in Bangalore during the Aero India show last month that the officer had slashed his predecessor’s commitment to induct eight squadrons of Akash missiles. The officer had brought the figure down to just two squadrons. Akash has a range of 27km, while MRSAM has a range of about 70km.
A source in the defence ministry confirmed that even for the induction of these two Akash squadrons, the IAF put a condition that the DRDO must first agree to the MRSAM project… “[He] killed Akash, blackmailed us to agree to MRSAM, and is now working for them openly.”
These arrangements could reflect corruption, as they did in the USAF’s Darleen Druyun/ Boeing scandal. Or, they could reflect a bureaucratic strong-arm tactic, executed by a customer that saw a large difference in key performance statistics, and accepted the inevitability of some Akash buys but sought to minimize them.
March 26/09: MR-SAM. Adnkronos International relays an Asian Age report that India has reached a $1.9 billion equivalent deal to develop MR-SAM. India’s Ministry of Defence has not confirmed the deal, but
“…sources in the department of defence research and development (DRDO) said it was likely to go ahead. The joint development of the 70-kilometre MR-SAM missile project would be carried out by India’s DRDO and the Israeli Aircraft Industries [sic].”
Subsequent reports lend considerable credence to the belief that MR-SAM was signed at this time, though the exact amounts vary. A December 2009 Parliamentary answer adds some clarity, and places the overall effort at INR 100.75 billion (about $1.95 billion), but contracts to Israeli companies within that effort probably aren’t the full budgeted amount. Reports also cite up to 2,000 missiles ordered, and offsetting purchases from Tata equal to 33% of the contract. These offsets would almost certainly include Tata trucks for the land-based Barak-8 AMD system, as well as purchases and partnerships involving Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. (TASL), whose collaboration may also include the development, licensed manufacture, or operation of UAVs, radars, electronic warfare systems and homeland security systems.
See also Nov 9/09, June 10/09 entries.
MR-SAM Deal (probable)
Feb 24/09: MR-SAM. A domain-b article quotes senior DRDO scientist Dr Prahlad, re: the MR-SAM project:
“We may take around 12 years but the requirement of the services is that they want it (MR-SAM) fast. The only way to make it four to five years is to partner with a country which has already developed some of the hardware. If they have got some hardware and we have got some knowledge, we can do it in 4-5 years…” Dr Prahalad added that [DRDO's Akash] did not fit the bill for the MR-SAM project as its range was only 30 km, while the services had posited teh [sic] requirement for a missile system with a range of 70 km.”
Feb 10/09: Politics. Top Left Front leaders, Prakash Karat (General Secretary, Communist Party of India – Marxist) and A B Bardhan (General Secretary, Communist Party of India) send a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Opposing the MR-SAM contract to Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), asking the government not to “subvert” india’s indigenous missile effort, which it characterizes as “superior.” The letter also cites the bribery allegations against IAI (see Oct 13/08 entry). Press Trust of India.
Jan 20/09: SR-SAM – Revenge of DRDO? India Defence reports that neither MBDA nor India’s state-run DRDO have given up on their “SR-SAM” short range air defense proposal. Rumors peg it as a combination of DRDO’s Trishul and MBDA’s VL-MICA system, though Trishul’s failure and VL-MICA’s technologies mean that claims regarding Trishul technology are likely to be about saving face as much as anything else.
The “Maitri” LLQRM proposal’s positioning would be directly competitive with RAFAEL’s SPYDER, and VL-MICA is deployable as a mobile system. That could affect SPYDER’s future expansion within the Indian military, and might even affect its prospects if program problems crop up. MICA’s capabilities mean that SR-SAM/Maitri would also be directly competitive with India’s indigenous Akash, and might even impinge on the proposed medium range MR-SAM deal.
Nov 9/08: MR-SAM Cleared. An India Times article clarifies, noting that the current UPA government has cleared the MR-SAM development project to go ahead, despite the political/legal storm around the navy’s original Barak missile deal.
Oct 13/08: Investigation. Reports from India indicate that the government has effectively downgraded IAI and RAFAEL’s status as vendors, suspending additional Barak missile purchases, and adding additional high-level approval steps for any new or existing deal involving either company. The moves are a response to ongoing CBI investigations, involving allegations that bribery was used to secure the original Barak ship defense missile deal in 1999-2000. Read “India Downgrades Vendor Status of IAI and RAFAEL” for more.
Aug 22/07: In a written Parliamentary response, Defence Minister Shri AK Antony offers a program update:
“The government has not decided on a joint venture with Israel for the production of missiles. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has earlier entered into a contract with M/s. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel to jointly develop a Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM) system for the Indian and Israeli Navy in January 2006.”
July 13/07: MR-SAM. The MR-SAM project may be about to take the naval Barak-NG deal to a new level. If reports are correct, this Rs 10,000 crore (almost $2.5 billion) deal would see a longer range version of the Barak enter service as India’s medium-range land-based surface-air-missile system. Ha’aretz | Indian Express | The Times of India.
Jan 3/07: LR-SAM value. A report from the Israeli government places the Barak naval deal at $450 million.
Feb 2/06: LR-SAM. Reports surface that India and Israel have finalized their biggest defense development agreement: The state-owned Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad, and Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) reportedly signed a pact on Jan 27/06 for the joint development and production of a long-range version of the Barak (Heb. “Lightning”) air defense system.
A senior scientist of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) reportedly said that the 50/50 shared program had an estimated cost of about $350 million over the next 5 years, but a December 2009 Parliamentary answer costed India’s contribution effort at INR 20.06 billion (about $591 million). The agreement does say that additional funding will be infused by both parties as needed.
Under this agreement, the DRDO and IAI will develop 6 long-range Barak systems for India’s new Russian warships There are also reports that Barak and the Barak-8 missiles will be used as phased replacements for the aging Russian OSA-M and Volna RZ-31 missiles still in operation with the Navy. Indian Navy personnel reportedly pointed to the inherent advantage of the Barak family’s digital systems over the analog computers that guide the Russian missiles.
Procurement by Israel’s navy could follow, and India’s Army and Air Force also have projected requirements for medium-long range air defense systems. Express India | The Tribune of India | Defense News.
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: Barak Missile Family
- Israel Aerospace Industries – Naval Barak 8
- Defense Update – Barak-8 MR-SAM program
- IAI – Barak-1 Ship Point Defense System
- Israeli Weapons – Barak. 2008 snapshot notes that India’s orders of the Barak missile to date have totaled at least $360 million.
- Bharat-Rakshak – Barak SAM. 2010 snapshot lists ships on which these missiles are installed.
Background: Related Equipment
- IAI Elta – ELM-2248 MF-STAR: MULTI-FUNCTION Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar. Accompanies the Barak-1 on some Indian ships, and likely upgrade/ new fit for Israeli ships. Up to 4 fixed active array S-band tiles, with each tile containing 16 GaN T/R modules, and multiple digital beamforming capability. A typical 3×3 m array weighs approximately 1,500 kg, and total weight below decks is about 900 kg for onboard equipment in 2 processing and 4 power supply cabinets. Liquid cooling is used.
- Defense Update – EL/M-2248 MF-STAR Naval Multi-Mission Radar
- Wikipedia – SA-3. The S-125 Pechora used by India is a variant. See also this DID Spotlight article, which explains how a Serbian SA-3 battery survived NATO’s aerial attacks and shot down an F-117 stealth fighter in 1999.
- GlobalSecurity.org – SA-8 GECKO / 9K33 Osa. Short-range system, used by India. Will be replaced by Israel’s SPYDER system.
- Bharat-Rakshak – Trishul SAM. Short-range naval and land SAM. Was eventually canceled, by which time the Barak-1 was in place, and performing above Trishul’s potential.
- GlobalSecurity – Trishul (Trident) air-defense missile. Clips a lot from Indian press releases, take with a grain of salt. Does describe some of the program’s difficulties, but only goes to about 2003.
News & Views
- domain-b (Feb 24/09) – India, Israel to co-develop medium-range SAM system
- India Defence (July 8/07) – India, Israel To Co-Develop Advanced Barak Ship Defense Missile System
- The Indian Express (Oct 12/06) – What CBI doesn’t say: Trishul a DRDO dud, that’s why Barak deal. The original Barak-1 deal, whose relationships laid the groundwork for LR-SAM.
- Defense News (June 29/09) – Israel Eyes Locally Built Warship: Drops LCS In Favor of German Design. Link dead, but: “U.S. regulations allow Israel to convert some 26 percent of its annual aid into shekels to finance local projects. But most of those funds over the next several years already have been earmarked for high-priority programs, including the Barak-8 air and ship defense system and the MF-STAR multifunction radar planned for the new ships.”