Indian Army gets portable Igla-S Air defence system

The Indian Army has received the first batch of 24 Russia-made Igla-S Man Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS), along with 100 missiles, as part of a larger deal that includes domestic production in India, reports ThePrint.

Procurement Details

The Igla-S system is being acquired to enhance the Indian Army’s Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) capabilities.

Sources in the defence establishment revealed that this procurement is a significant one, as opposed to the smaller emergency purchase made in 2021.

Capabilities of Igla-S

The Igla-S is a hand-held defence system that can be operated by an individual or crew. It is designed to bring down low-flying aircraft and can also identify and neutralise air targets such as cruise missiles and drones.

According to a report in The Defense Post, the Igla-S system comprises the 9M342 missile, the 9P522 launching mechanism, the 9V866-2 mobile test station, and the 9F719-2 test set.

These components work together to provide a comprehensive air defence solution.

Russian Contract and Indigenous Production

India signed a contract with Russia in November last year for 120 launchers and 400 missiles.

While the first batch has come from Russia, the rest of these systems will be made in India through Transfer of Technology (ToT) from Russia by an Indian company.

Deployment and Delivery

The Igla-S systems are intended for new air defence formations for high mountainous terrain along the northern border.

Sources mention that one regiment has already received these systems, and more will follow as deliveries progress.

Background and Selection Process

The Request for Proposal (RFP) for VSHORADs was issued in 2010 under the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. In 2018, Russia’s Rosoboronexport-manufactured Igla-S won a competitive bid as the lowest bidder (L1) over France’s MBDA-manufactured Mistral and Sweden’s SAAB-manufactured RBS 70 NG.

Significance and Replacement of Igla-1M

The Igla-S acquisition addresses the Indian Army’s need to replace the outdated Igla-1M systems.

This move is crucial, as highlighted in a 2012 letter from then Army chief General V.K. Singh to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, citing the obsolescence of existing air defence systems.

Future Plans and DRDO Tests

Once the current requirement is fulfilled, the Indian Army plans to replace the older Igla systems with advanced laser-beam riding and infrared VSHORADS.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently conducted two flight tests of indigenous VSHORADS missiles, indicating progress in this direction.

The acquisition of the Igla-S MANPADS marks a significant step in enhancing India’s air defence capabilities, particularly in mountainous regions.

With plans for indigenous production and future advancements, the Indian Army is poised to strengthen its VSHORAD capabilities in the coming years.