After five years of negotiations, RAFAEL Armament Development Authority Ltd. has won a tender to supply missiles to the Indian Navy. Other bidders in the tender included Israeli company Elbit Systems (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT), BAE Aerospace of the UK, Denel (PLY) Ltd. of South Africa, Federal State Unitary Enterprise Russian Defense Export (FGUP Rosoboroneksport), and European missile manufacturer MBDA.
”Defense News” reported that the deal was worth $25 million for 20 Derby missiles that can be fired beyond visual range (BVR), and six practice missiles. The missiles are designated for the Indian Navy’s Sea Harrier vertical takeoff planes, which are stationed on Viraat aircraft carriers.
According to “Defense News,” negotiations were completed on January 28, and the agreement between India and RAFAEL is slated for signing this month.
India has conducted a worldwide search for BVR missiles for its battle fleet since 2000. The contract for arming its Sea Harrier jets was published in 2003.
Under the draft agreement, RAFAEL will station specialists in India to train Indian Navy sailors in the maintenance and operation of the missiles. Indian defense ministry officials said that RAFAEL would also supply racks and trailers for transferring and installing the missiles.
Delivery of the missiles will start 30 months after the contract is signed, and be completed a year after that. According to Indian Navy sources quoted by “Defense News,” the Derby missiles have a maximum range of 20 kilometers, a flying speed of Mach 1.2, and can lock in on the target even before being launched, or shortly after launch.
Indian defense ministry sources said that the Indian Air Force also needed next-generation BVR missiles in order to upgrade its Mirage 2000H, Sukhoi Su-30 MKI, Jaguar, and MiG-29 airplanes. The need for new missiles was revealed in early 2003, when the Indian Air Force’s weapons systems were unable to cope with those of the French forces in joint Indian-French military maneuvers.