Russia and India have agreed to the provision of Igla-S handheld anti-aircraft missiles, including the licensed production of Igla-S within India. The manufacturing process will be a collaborative effort, involving a private sector Indian company on Indian soil.
Alexander Mikheev, the Chief Executive Officer of Russia’s state arms export agency, Rosoboronexport, confirmed at the Dubai Airshow 2023, in an interview with the Russian state news agency TASS, that the agreement to supply and license the production of Russia’s Man-Portable Igla-S air Defense Systems (MANPADS) to India has been successfully signed.
The Igla-S handheld anti-aircraft missile is a MANPADS belonging to the surface-to-air missile family. It is designed for individual (crew) use to engage hostile aircraft. Equipped with an infrared seeker and guidance system, it can effectively lock onto the infrared signatures emitted by aircraft engines. As part of the Very Short-Range Air Defense (VSHORAD) program, India aims to upgrade its air defense capabilities by replacing outdated Soviet-Russian Igla systems with the advanced Igla-S MANPADS.
Under this initiative, India plans to acquire 5,175 missiles and launchers, with various versions to be supplied by Russia. Additionally, a significant portion, comprising 600 missiles, will be produced at the Indian state enterprise Bharat Dynamics Ltd., as reported by TASS.
Alexander Mikheyev, the head of the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, stated that they had already signed the corresponding document and were now working in conjunction with an Indian private company to organize the production of Igla-S MANPADS in India.
Rosoboronexport consistently takes part in the International Exhibition of Arms and Military Equipment “Defexpo” and the international aerospace exhibition “Aero India.” The military-technical cooperation between Russia and India dates back to the mid-1950s. The bilateral relations between the two nations are progressing within the framework of the long-term “Make in India” initiative for military-technical cooperation.
Between 2018 and 2022, Russia played a significant role in India’s arms acquisitions, contributing to 45% of the country’s total arms imports, as reported by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Despite challenges to Russia’s reputation arising from its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and concerns about the effectiveness of its military equipment, India, being the largest arms importer globally, continued to rely heavily on Russia as its primary arms supplier during this period.
The organization of production in India not only makes the endeavor cost-efficient in the long run but also aligns with India’s pursuit of self-reliance in the defense sector. This move contributes to bolstering India’s influence in the region. Furthermore, it significantly augments India’s air defense capabilities, thereby reinforcing the enduring and time-tested ties between the two nations.