In a major development, India and Russia signed a contract to supply Igla-S hand-held anti-aircraft missiles to New Delhi– nearly eight months after Moscow officials anticipated that a key contract on the supply and licensed production of Igla-S man-portable air defence systems in India will be inked.
Notably, the Igla-S– is a man-portable air defence system (MANPADS)– which is capable of taking down an enemy aircraft. Interestingly, the weapon can be fired by an individual or crew.
According to a report by the Russian state news agency, TASS, besides exporting the weapon to its closest ally, Moscow has also signed a contract wherein it allowed the production of the Igla three under license.
“We have already signed the related paper and now, jointly with an Indian private company, we are arranging the production of Igla-S MANPADS in India,” TASS quoted Alexander Mikheyev, head of the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, as saying.
However, the official did not disclose the name of the private Indian entity which has been assigned to produce the weapon.
Notably, the Indian Army which had long been looking for new man-portable air defence systems, had inducted a small number of Igla-S systems last year.
The weapons were brought from Russia under emergency procurement. At that time it was reported that larger contracts for Igla-S systems under the Very Short Range Air Defence System (VSHORAD) deal were underway.
Later in February this year, Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Drozhzhov told TASS at the Aero India 2023 international exhibition in Bangalore that Moscow was looking forward to the Indian side’s decision on signing the contract on the supply and licensed production of Igla-S man-portable air defence systems.
It is worth mentioning Russia remains India’s favourite destination for the purchase of defence equipment and fighter jets. Despite Russian defence equipment suffering massive criticism by the West in Moscow’s war against Ukraine, the Indian Defence Ministry bought military equipment from Russia.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Moscow supplied almost 45% of India’s defence requirement between 2018 and 2022, with France providing 29% and the United States 11%.