India eyes Patriots, Javelins and more Hawks
India is evaluating the advanced Patriot ground-based air defence system for its ballistic missile shield and the US has provided 'classified' material to it on the weapon unit, which was successfully used during both Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Also, India is in the process of finalising with the UK the terms of reference for buying an additional 57 Hawk advanced trainer for the Indian Air Force, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallamraju has said.
"The government has decided to exercise the option of buying an additional 57 Hawk trainer jets manufactured by the British Aerospace. Details of the contract and the terms of reference of the deal are being negotiated with the UK," Pallamraju, who is leading Indian delegation to the Farnborough Air Show, the biggest in the world, said.
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Image: Hawk trainer
Hawk can also be used as combat aircraft
India, which had earlier signed a deal for purchase of the two-seater Hawk trainer planes, has already received 24 of the single-engine aircraft in a fly-away condition. Of the other 42 of the planes, which were to be produced by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, six have been supplied to the IAF.
The Hawk, which can also be used as a combat aircraft, provides advance stage three training to IAF pilots. It can fly at a maximum speed of 1.2 times the speed of sound.
The minister, who is on a six-day visit to the UK, refused to give a time-frame for finalising the terms of reference of the multi-billion dollar deal.
The Royal Air Force uses the Hawk and 900 of them have supplied to 18 countries so far. Pallamraju, who has been interacting with top armament manufacturers in Farnborough, said he told them that they stand a better chance of bagging orders from India if they agree to make the country self-reliant in weapon systems.
Patriot will answer India's missile defence needs
Speaking about India interest in the Patriot ground-based air defence system, Joseph Garret, Vice President of the Raytheon's Patriot Programmes, said: "A number of exchanges have taken place between the government of India and the US and information has been given to India at the classified level."
Replying to questions, he said tests of the Patriot system, which has been procured by 12 countries, by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation and other agencies had been "highly successful".
On India developing its own missile defence shield, Garret said, "Patriot system gives a major boost to any country's defence capability. India may be developing its own system, but Patriot is a combat-proven weapon system."
Another senior official of Raytheon, a defence and aerospace major, said Washington and New Delhi have also discussed the issue of India-specific end-user accords.
"If the US government gives a go-ahead, Raytheon will step in," he said.
Since its production began in 1980, the company has delivered over 170 Patriot fire units and over 9,000 missiles.
'Javelin has been tested by the army'
The countries that have acquired the weapon system, were Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Japan, Israel, Taiwan, Greece, Spain, South Korea and the UAE.
The weapon system's capabilities were demonstrated in 1990 following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
"Patriot's performance against Iraqi SCUD missile attacks were impressive, even though the SCUD missiles exceeded Patriot's design threat," he said.
Taylor W Lawrence, President of Raytheon's Missile Systems, said India is also looking at the 'Javelin' anti-tank and anti-armour missile 'and a 'letter of intent' is expected to be issue soon.
"Javelin has been fully tested by the Indian land forces. We expect a letter of intent from the Indian government," he said.