Dr Zafar Jaspal |
SINCE the mid-1980s, India has been importing missile technology for advancing its ballistic and cruise missile inventories. In addition, the dual-use space technology imported for peaceful application has also used by India’s Defence and Research Development Organization for the development of short and long-range ballistic missiles.
The positive trajectory of the Indian missiles program would have serious repercussions for the South Asian strategic environment in general and Asian strategic stability in particular.
India’s missile program
India’s missile program has evolved after many years of clandestine research and development. Indian scientists acquired specialized missile know-how from dual-use space technology, under the pretext of its peaceful application. The available literature on the subject reveals that thousands of Indian scientists have been engaged
The available literature on the subject reveals that thousands of Indian scientists have been engaged in fusing the foreign and domestic research and components for the development of strategic and tactical missiles in India.
India Defence Research and Development Organization and Israel Aerospace Industries have developed close working relations since 2006.
Consequently, today, Indian scientists are developing and conducting a successful test of their indigenous ballistic and cruise missiles. Despite the claims of the Indian scientific bureaucracy that they are manufacturing missiles indigenously, many analysts believe that the Indian missiles program is very much dependent on the equipment supplied by France, Germany, Russia Federation, United Kingdom and the United States.
The Indo-Israel defense partnership
The Indo-Israel Defence Partnership has a constructive contribution in India’s armed forces modernization. India Defence Research and Development Organization and Israel Aerospace Industries have developed close working relations since 2006. The latter transferred sophisticated technology and equipment to India.
Currently, New Delhi is negotiating with Tel Aviv to purchase two more long-range Phalcon Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS). The Cabinet Committee on Security had approved the deal for additional AWACS in 2016. The weaknesses in India’s indigenous missile program oblige New Delhi to approach its defense partner Israel to overcome the technological obstacles.
Indo-Israel missile deal supplements Indian military build-up. It also encourages Indian strategic competitors to refurbish their defensive capabilities.
Since the 1990s, New Delhi has been importing military equipment including missile-related technologies from Israel. The leading Indian missile scientist, Dr. Abdul Kalam (later became President of India) visited Israel in June 1996 and in the early months of 1997.
He visited Israel to receive its assistance in the development of the Indian missile program. He had shown interest in Israel’s developments in the surface-to-surface missile and theater missile defense systems (Arrow) technology and components.
Recently, India and Israel announced to develop a medium-range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) system for the Indian Army. The missile has a range of 50-70 km. The missile is designed to defend against any type of airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, and UAVs as well as cruise missiles and combat jets within the range of 50-70 km.
On February 22, 2017, India’s Cabinet Committee on Security, a government body headed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and responsible for military procurements, approved 17,000-crore ($ 2.5 billion) MR-SAM deal with Israel.
The MR-SAM would be manufactured in India and nearly 80% indigenous (Indian) content would be used in the manufacturing of the missile. Five regiments of the Indian Army would be the beneficiary of this new Indo-Israel missile contract.
The deal is for 200 missiles for five regiments, each getting 40 units. It was reported that: “The system will be based on the older Barak system of Israel, which is in use in India. It is being changed as per requirements.” Notably, Barak is a supersonic, vertically launched short-range air defense system, with an operational range of about 10 km/ 6 miles.
Missile Technology Control Regime
India secured the full membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2016. The MTCR is a west-dominated cartel of 34 countries, which controls trade in missile and space technology.
The cartel was established in 1987. Since then, the members of the MTCR have been maintaining a firm control over trade in missile and rocket components.
Hence, the membership of the MTCR would have a productive effect on India’s space and missile programs. It is because; being a member of missile club, New Delhi has access to sophisticated missile technology. Moreover, MTCR membership allows India to export its own space and missile technology to countries that comply with the regime.
To conclude, Indo-Israel missile deal supplements Indian military build-up. It also encourages Indian strategic competitors to refurbish their defensive capabilities. Thus, the lethal arms race between the belligerent neighbors taxes the regional prosperity.
Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He is also an advisor on Non-Proliferation to SASSI, London and a course coordinator at Foreign Services Academy for the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This piece was first published in Pakistan Observer. It has been reprinted with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.