India has cancelled a $ 500 million deal to buy 1,600 Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel, the state-owned defence contractor Rafael Advanced Defence Systems announced on Wednesday. The Defence Ministry had taken the decision much earlier but the company was formally informed about New Delhi’s decision to exit the deal last week.
India’s move to withdraw from the deal, which was seen to symbolise strengthening ties between the two countries, came around the same time that the Defence Ministry cleared a 131 Barak surface -to-air missiles from Rafael for $70 million, or 460 crores. The Barak missiles are to be used for India’s first aircraft carrier, “as an anti-missile defence system against anti-ship missiles,” said the ministry”.
“Rafael regrets the decision and remains committed to cooperating with the Indian Ministry of Defence and to its strategy of continuing to work in India, an important market, as it has for more than two decades, to provide India with the most advanced and innovative systems,” the company said.
Spike is a man-portable “fire and forget’ missile that can hit moving targets such as a tank, allowing the soldier who fires the missile to quickly move for cover. India had opted for the Israel’s Spike over the Javelin missiles offered by Washington in 2014.
Negotiations were completed with Israel’s Rafael for the Spike missile which had already constructed a missile-manufacturing facility near Hyderabad. in joint venture with the Kalyani group. But the Defence Ministry later decided to back the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which has promised to deliver a world-class missile within four years.0