India was looking for a tactical missile system to deal with any threat from Chinese or Pakistani main battle tanks and infantry vehicles. While many options were available until 2019, why did India choose Israel’s tank-buster Spike missile over America’s Javelin? India opted for the third generation Israeli Spike MR (Medium-Range) Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) after the successful airstrikes of Balakot in 2019. Accordingly, an order was placed for 240 missiles and 12 launchers under an “emergency purchase” to meet immediate operational requirements.
The Spike, designed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is an anti-tank guided missile and also enemy missile equipped with a charged-in-tandem HEAT warhead.
The Spike ATGM has the ability to penetrate 1 m of armour. It can be operated only from “direct attack or mid-course navigation based on target-coordinates”.
According to the _Jerusalem Post_, this attack mode can demolish long-range hidden targets. It provides precise target detection, damage assessment and real-time intelligence
These super-advanced missiles, which can be fired from vehicles, helicopters, ships, and ground launchers, feature advanced optical sensors, smart target trackers, and a variety of artificial intelligence tools.
In early December 2020, India had bought fourth generation Spike LR (long range) missiles. The country has acquired more than 200 spike ATGMs through the emergency purchase route.
American Javelin Missile
In 2019, US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin was ready to introduce its Javelin ATGM to India through the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
The DTTI, signed in 2012, was intended to identify and promote major joint development and manufacturing projects for the defence forces.
The Javelin ATGM is a portable, fire-and-forget system capable of destroying the latest tanks and heavily fortified defences. The Javelin missile uses an automatic infrared guidance system, unlike a conventional wired guided ATGM.
The US-made Javelin is regarded as the best and most in-demand ATGM in the world. However, the American missile is not cheap. A Javelin ATGM costs more than $ 100,000.
The Javelin ATGM deal includes the purchase of 410 portable anti-tank missiles, 72 units of sighting and launching equipment, 10 training complexes totaling $ 75 million, although the deal never materialised and India instead went for the Israeli Spike.
Why India chose the Israeli missile
The main reason for New Delhi’s decision to take the spike ATGM was that, unlike the US, Israel was ready to transfer technology to India, with the permission to manufacture the Spike in India, supporting the Narendra Modi government’s Make in India ‘initiative.
In addition, New Delhi opted for Israel’s ATGM due to Spike’s immense success rate and its use by countries around the world.
Other than India, Israel has sold more than 27,000 Spike missiles and systems to more than 27 countries, including the Philippines, Lithuania and Australia.
The Spike missile series is proof of the overall capability of Israel’s defence complex to find new solutions to a variety of threats.