New Delhi: India is in the process of procuring a batch of Igla-S hand-held anti-aircraft missiles from Russia to bolster the combat capability of the Army units deployed in various sensitive forward locations, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
India is also looking at production of the Russian missile systems in the country under the Make-in-India initiative, they said.
The Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force already have Igla man-portable missiles in their inventories.
The Igla is a man-portable air defence system (MANPADS) that can be used to bring down enemy aircraft and helicopters.
The missile has a range of around five to six km.
The people cited above said India sealed a deal with Russia around five months ago to procure a batch of the latest version of the Igla-S hand-held anti-aircraft missiles for the Indian Army.
The new weapons will replace the Igla missiles inducted into the Army in early 1990s.
The exact quantity being procured is not immediately known.
The people cited above said India is looking at production of the missile systems in the country as well under the Make-in-India initiative.
Russia has been a major supplier of weapons to India. The military cooperation including supply of military hardware from Russia to India are continuing notwithstanding the Ukraine conflict.
Chief Executive Officer of Russia’s state arms export agency Rosoboronexport Alexander Mikheev told Russian news agency TASS in Dubai that a contract for license production of Igla-S air defence systems (MANPADS) for India has been signed.
“A respective document has already been signed and now together with a private sector Indian company, we will organise the production of Igla-S MANPADS on Indian territory,” he said.
The Indian Armed forces are planning to replace the vintage Soviet-origin Igla systems with cutting-edge Igla-S MANPADS.
The defence and military ties between India and Russia have remained strong in the last few years.
In October 2018, India signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, notwithstanding a warning by the US that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions under the provisions of Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
Russia started delivery of the first regiment of the missile systems in December 2021 and it has been deployed to cover parts of the border with China in the northern sector as well as the frontier with Pakistan The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
Unlike many other leading powers, India has not yet directly criticised Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and it abstained from the votes at the UN platforms in condemning the Russian aggression.
India has been pressing for the resolution of the crisis through diplomacy and dialogue.