Strengthening India's Air Defence: Introduction of Igla-S MANPADS

Image of Indian soldiers receiving the first batch of Igla-S Man Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS), strengthening India's air defence capabilities.
Strengthening India's Air Defence: Introduction of Igla-S MANPADS

The Indian Army has recently taken a significant stride in bolstering its air defence capabilities with the acquisition of the Igla-S Man Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) from Russia. This procurement, consisting of 24 launchers and 100 missiles in the initial batch, marks a pivotal step towards enhancing the Army's Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) capabilities, particularly in the challenging terrain along the northern border.

Procurement Details:

In November 2022, India inked a contract with Russia for the acquisition of 120 launchers and 400 missiles. While the first batch has been directly delivered from Russia, the subsequent systems are slated to be manufactured in India through Transfer of Technology (ToT) from Russia, facilitated by an Indian entity.

Capabilities of Igla-S:

The Igla-S emerges as a versatile hand-held defence system, operable by either an individual or a crew. Its primary function is to neutralize low-flying aircraft, alongside the capability to identify and counter air targets such as cruise missiles and drones. Comprising the 9M342 missile, the 9P522 launching mechanism, the 9V866-2 mobile test station, and the 9F719-2 test set, the Igla-S embodies cutting-edge technology for effective air defence.

Deployment and Delivery:

These Igla-S systems find deployment in new air defence formations, strategically positioned in the challenging high mountainous regions along the northern border. The initial deployment has commenced, with one regiment already equipped, and subsequent deliveries are scheduled to ensure comprehensive coverage.

Background and Selection Process:

The selection of the Igla-S system follows a meticulous process initiated in 2010, with the issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for VSHORADs. Through a competitive bidding process, Russia's Rosoboronexport-manufactured Igla-S emerged as the lowest bidder (L1) in 2018, triumphing over counterparts from France and Sweden.

Significance and Replacement of Igla-1M:

The acquisition of Igla-S signifies the Indian Army's concerted effort to replace obsolete air defence systems, particularly the outdated Igla-1M. This transition is imperative, as highlighted by the concerns raised in a 2012 communication from the then Army chief to the Prime Minister, emphasizing the urgency of modernizing the existing air defence infrastructure.

Future Plans and DRDO Tests:

Looking ahead, the Indian Army aims to further enhance its air defence capabilities by replacing older systems with advanced laser-beam riding and infrared VSHORADS. Recent flight tests conducted by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of indigenous VSHORADS missiles underscore promising strides towards achieving this objective.

This introduction of the Igla-S MANPADS not only reinforces India's defensive posture but also underscores its commitment to staying abreast of evolving threats and technological advancements in the realm of air defence.

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