June 22, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination




THE CONTEXT: The Indian Army is on the brink of enhancing its air defence capabilities with the imminent arrival of Russian Igla-S very short-range air defence systems (VSHORAD).


  • This acquisition addresses a critical need within the Army’s air defence framework, a move that has been delayed multiple times due to payment issues and other logistical challenges.

Igla-S Acquisition

  • In the latest tranche of Emergency Procurements (EP), the Indian Army contracted 48 Igla-S launchers, 100 missiles, 48 night sights, and a missile testing station, all under a ₹260 crore deal.
  • The systems are being assembled by Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Limited (ADSTL) in India, utilizing technology transferred from Rosoboronexport, Russia.
  • While the missiles will be imported, components such as sights, launchers, and batteries are being assembled or manufactured locally by Adani Defence.
  • This local assembly is part of the broader initiative to enhance India’s self-reliance in defence production.

Resolution of Payment Issues

  • Since the onset of the Ukraine conflict and Russia’s exclusion from the international payment system, payments for major defence deals were significantly delayed.
  • The disruption affected crucial acquisitions, including the S-400 air defence systems.
  • The payment issue has been resolved through the use of national currencies, specifically Rupee-Ruble trade.
  • This arrangement allows Russia to utilize accumulated Indian Rupees, thereby streamlining the payment process for ongoing and future defence deals.

Emergency Procurement Route

  • Under the EP-4 route from September 2022 to September 2023, the Army completed over 70 procurement schemes worth nearly ₹11,000 crore, while the Indian Air Force concluded 64 contracts worth around ₹8,137 crore.
  • The EP route, introduced post the 2016 Uri terror attack, allows the Services to procure weapon systems up to ₹300 crores urgently, bypassing lengthy clearance processes.
  • Deliveries under EP must commence within six months and be completed within a year.


  • VSHORAD (Very Short Range Air Defence System) systems serve as the soldier’s last line of defence against enemy aircraft, helicopters, and UAVs, fitting into the multilayered air defence network.
  • Beyond the Igla-S, the Army’s broader VSHORAD upgrade plan includes:
    • DRDO Developments: An infrared-based man-portable system under development by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), aimed to meet a requirement of 300 launchers and 1800 missiles.
    • Laser Beam Riding Systems: A project sanctioned under Make-2 procurement for 200 launchers and 1,200 missiles, with prototype testing expected by the end of 2024.
  • The original VSHORAD acquisition process began in 2010, undergoing multiple trials and re-trials.
  • The Request for Proposal (RFP) included over 5000 missiles, 258 single launchers, and 258 multi-launchers.
  • Three contenders made it to the trials: MBDA (France), Rosoboronexport (Russia), and SAAB (Sweden).
  • All were deemed technically compliant in 2017, with Igla-S emerging as the lowest bidder in 2018.
  • However, the deal faced procedural deviations and protests from vendors, delaying the final contract.

Broader Air Defence Framework

  • Air Defence Structure
    • Air Defence in the Indian Army operates across three levels:
      • Gun/Missile Systems: These include the indigenous Akash SAM in the medium segment.
      • Medium Range Surface to Air Missile System: Falls within the high range category.
      • Self-Propelled Guns: The Army is seeking new acquisitions in both AD Gun Missile systems and AD self-propelled guns.

Hermes-900 UAVs

  • New UAV Acquisitions
    • The Army is also set to receive the first of two Israeli Hermes-900 Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), assembled by ADSTL in Hyderabad.
    • This follows last year’s orders where all three services placed orders for two MALE UAVs each under EP.
  • Production and Deployment
    • ADSTL, in partnership with Elbit Systems, manufactures the aerostructures for Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 in Hyderabad.
    • The Navy has already received its first Hermes-900 UAV, with the Army expected to receive theirs next month.
    • The Indian Air Force has opted for the Heron Mk2 from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), with four Heron-Mk2 UAVs inducted in the Eastern sector in 2021.

About Igla-S:

  • It is a man-portable air defence system (MANPADS) developed by Russia.
  • It is known in the West as SA-24 Grinch.
  • It entered service with the Russian Army in 2004.
  • It can be fired by an individual or crew to bring down an enemy aircraft.
  • It has the capability of bringing down low-flying aircraft. It can also identify and neutralise air targets, such as cruise missiles and drones.


  • The Igla-S system comprises of combat equipment, including the 9M342 missile and the 9P522 launching mechanism, along with maintenance equipment, including the 9V866-2 mobile test station and the 9F719-2 test set.
  • It has an effective range upto 6 km.
  • The limiting altitude of effective target destruction for the “Igla-S” complex is 3.5 km.
  • It has a heavier, more powerful warhead to maximize damage capabilities, as well as contact and timed fuzes for increased attack range.

SOURCE: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/army-set-to-receive-igla-s-air-defence-systems-partly-assembled-in-india/article68179544.ece

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