January 26, 2009, New Delhi -- Times of India reports that the Indian Army has gone in for an urgent order of 4,100 French-origin Milan-2T anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). Defence ministry sources said the Rs 592-crore (USD 120 million approx.) order for 4,100 Milan-2T missiles was cleared after 26/11, with the government finally fast-tracking several military procurement plans.
MILAN 2T is manufactured by the European defense giant MBDA which is also involved in few other defense deals with the Indian government. MBDA is a missile manufacturer with operations in France, Germany, Italy and Britain.
India and Pakistan are currently reorganising their mechanised forces to achieve strategic mobility and high-volume firepower for rapid thrusts into enemy territory. India has plans to progressively induct as many as 1,657 Russian-origin T-90S main-battle tanks (MBTs), apart from the ongoing upgradation of its T-72 fleet.
But with Pakistan looking to procure T-84 MBTs from Ukraine to bolster its already strong fleet of T-80UD, Al-Khalid and other tanks, India wants its infantry battalions to have potent anti-armour capabilities.
This can be gauged from the fact that the latest order for 4,100 advanced Milan-2T missiles with tandem warheads to replenish the Army's dwindling ATGM stock comes barely a few months after the Rs 1,380-crore contract for a staggering 15,000 Konkurs-M missiles. Defence PSU Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), incidentally, manufactures variants of the second-generation 2-km-range Milan and 4-km-range Konkurs ATGMs, under licence from French and Russian companies, at around Rs 4.50 lakh per unit.
As for the third-generation Nag ATGM, with a 4-km strike range, Army has already placed an initial order for 443 missiles and 13 Namicas (Nag missile tracked carriers). But the Nag is still to become fully operational almost two decades after it was first tested.
DRDO contends that Phase-I of Nag's user-trials were successfully completed last month, with Phase-II now slated for May-June. "Pre-production of Nag is underway at BDL. It's is a fire-and-forget missile, with potent top-attack capability to hit a tank's vulnerable upper portion like the gun turret,'' said an official.
Moreover, Nag's range will be extended to over 7-km in its airborne version named "Helina'', to be fitted on "Dhruv'' Advanced Light Helicopters, each configured to carry eight missiles in two launchers. Incidentally, Nag is the only "core missile system'' of India's original Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), launched way back in 1983, whose development work is yet to be completed.
The IGMDP was closed in December 2007 after DRDO declared development work on all other missiles ― Agni, Prithvi, Akash and Trishul ― was over. While work on strategic nuclear-capable missiles like Agni-III (3,500-km range) and Agni-V (over 5,000-km) is being "undertaken in-house'', India is now increasingly look at foreign collaboration in other armament projects to cut delays.(india-defence.com)
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