Air Defense: India Outsources R&D

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July 18, 2007: India and Israel have agreed to work together to develop a longer range version of the Israeli Barak anti-aircraft system. The new system (Barak II) would have a range of 50 kilometers, and take five years to develop. India and Israel will split the $300-400 million development costs, and the new system will be used by both countries, and sold to others as well.

Since 2002, Israel has sold $4.3 billion worth of weapons to India. About ten percent of these sales are for Barak anti-missile systems for ships. The Barak system uses small missiles to shoot down incoming anti-ship missiles, or aircraft. Each Barak system (missile container, radar, computers and installation) costs about $24 million. The Barak missiles weigh 216 pounds each (with a 48 pound warhead) and have a range of ten kilometers. The missiles are mounted in an eight cell container (which requires little maintenance) and are launched straight up. The radar system provides 360 degree coverage and the missiles can take down an incoming missile as close as 500 meters away from the ship.

Israel weapons have a solid reputation for reliability and effectiveness. Israeli success in several wars adds to the appeal of their armaments. U.S. and Israeli arms manufacturers often work together, which also gives Israel an edge when selling their equipment. The Barak II will also kill work on a the similar Indian Akash system, which has been in development since the 1980s. The unfinished Akash is not an unusual situation for India.

The Barak system was purchased to do what the Indian made Trishul was designed to do. Barak works, but Trishul is made-in-India, and that counts for a lot. Trishul has been in development for over twenty years. First test firing took place in 1991, and the manufacturer declared test firings completed by 1998. The armed forces, however, rejected the missile, as not ready for service. So development continued, until 2003, when the project was cancelled. But the project, which has cost nearly $200 million so far, had political friends. Development was allowed to continue, even though neither the army or the navy wants it. The missile has a range of some nine kilometers, and has suffered mainly from reliability problems, particularly with its guidance system.

India is determined to develop a domestic arms industry that can design and build world class systems. The partnership with Israel is seen as a better way to do it. This comes after the completion of a successful joint development project with Russia, which produced the Brahmos high speed cruise missile.

 


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