|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
According to an official representative of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), contracts are under negotiation to supply India with Russian-made IGLA-S man-portable air defence missiles and to organise their production on Indian soil. Speaking to media on February 6, 2020 at the DefExpo 2020, the official said, "Currently, active contract negotiations are underway for the supply of IGLA-S portable anti-aircraft missile systems and the organisation of their licensed production in India. We expect that in the near future the parties will agree on all technical parameters, and we expect to sign the relevant contracts by the end of this year."
According to another report in the media, India is planning to buy 5175 missiles and launchers of the IGLA-S Man-portable AD System (MANPADS) in multiple variants from Russia in and DRDO will also assemble another some 600 of these missiles in India, negotiations for which are underway According to sources it is reported that contract, about which negotiations are currently underway, will include both the supply of ready-made MANPADS and the assembly of the components in India. It is expected that a contract worth up to $1.5 billion will be signed before the end of the year. The Indian Army is already equipped with IGLA MANPADS but these are not as advanced as the IGLA-S. IGLA MANPADS was developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s – then termed 9K38 IGLA (Needle). The IGLA MANPAD can engage aircraft, helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) using high explosive blast fragmentation. The system using a 9M39 Surface-to-Air missile (SAM) was adopted by the Soviet Army in 1981 – termed as SA-18 Grouse by the West. Compared to the Strela, the IGLA has increased warhead weight. Its infrared guidance system uses proportional convergence logic for target acquisition and movement prediction. The 9M39 missile constitutes a seeker head, control system and propulsion system. The 9E410 seeking head contains photo resistor sensor made of Indium cooled down to -200 degree Celsius for better IR source acquisition. The seeker head also contains logical selection unit to enhance system's acquisition capability during target engagement. The IGLA also uses 9S520 night fire equipment package. The IGLA launcher tube houses the SAM. It can also mount ground power supply sources and coolant gas. The targeting and triggering mechanisms are located on the grip-stock assembly. Operation of the IGLA is similar to the American 'Stinger'. With the 9M39 SAM inserted in the launch tube, the firing involves starting the ground power supply, powering the target acquisition unit and the missile. Identification friend or foe (IFF) is carried out before target engagement by a 1L14 interrogator mounted on the launch tube. The night sight can also be mounted for day/night interoperability. The launcher sight assembly is used to target aerial vehicles and missile is fired using grip-stock assembly. This starts the launch motor which pushes the 9M39 missile out of the launch tube. The seeker identifies the source as the boost phase of propulsion starts. During the sustaining phase control fins are used to maneouver the missile towards the IR Source.
On nearing/reaching the target the warhead ignites neutralising the target. The kill probability of IGLA against an unprotected target is reportedly 30-48 per cent and 24-30 per cent with the target having jamming capability. IGLA MANPADS has a number of variants viz IGLA-1, IGLA-IE, IGLA (SA-18), IGLA-D, IGLA-M (naval version), IGLA-V (air to air version), IGLA-N with larger and more powerful warhead, and IGLA-S also referred as IGLA-Super. IGLA-S termed as SA-24 Grinch by the West is more efficient weapon with longer range (up to 6 km). The missile was fitted with a new two-channel optical seeker with logic unit. It has higher jamming immunity due to good target selectivity against the background interference. IGLA-S has increased warhead weight, laser based contact/proximity fuse, and algorithm based optimal moment of explosion and high accuracy. IGLA MANPADS has a number of variants viz IGLA-1, IGLA-IE, IGLA (SA-18), IGLA-D, IGLA-M (naval version), IGLA-V (air to air version), IGLA-N with larger and more powerful warhead, and IGLA-S also referred as IGLA-Super. IGLA-S termed as SA-24 Grinch by the West is more efficient weapon with longer range (up to 6 km). The missile was fitted with a new two-channel optical seeker with logic unit. It has higher jamming immunity due to good target selectivity against the background interference. IGLA-S has increased warhead weight, laser based contact/proximity fuse, and algorithm based optimal moment of explosion and high accuracy. The warhead also features increased high explosive charge and fragment number; made from Indium antimonide this allows the warhead to lock on to a receding target easier. With its high combat effectiveness, IGLA-S system can be used to engage aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and drones.
Russia has exported the IGLA-S MANPADS to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Libya, Slovenia, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam and some other countries. The Indian Army has been holding IGLA MANPADS for number of years though not as advanced as the IGLA-S. This again shows the inability of the DRDO to develop indigenous MANPADS – sorry state as for all small arms. Even now the media reports are indicating bulk import of IGLA-S and assembling some of these under 'Make in India'. Prudence demands that for the latter we should obtain transfer of technology (ToT) and produce IGLA-S MANPADS under 'Make in India' optimising the private industry rather than just assembling these systems. The numbers required may be many more with the drone threat looming large. Pakistan has already been using drones to support terrorist operations in Punjab, swarm drone attacks are ongoing world over and China has a concept of using drones en-masse. India at the moment appears totally unprepared for these eventualities. Not only the military but CAPF manning borders need countermeasures against drones and swarm drones, so does security forces within the country responsible to counter such threats.