One of India’s most confounding, meandering and costly weapons contests — seen for months to be hanging by a thread — has finally reached a conclusion that is almost certain to be beset with controversy. A three-way battle to supply the Indian Army with hundreds of very short-range air defence systems (VSHORADS) is at an end with Russia’s Igla-S system being declared ‘lowest bidder’, edging out Sweden’s Saab (with the RBS 70NG) and France’s MBDA (with the Mistral).
The Indian Army has spent nearly two decades trying acquire hundreds of man-portable missile systems that infantry units can use to defend against aircraft, drones and helicopters.
As Livefist reported last month, the contest has seen five years of trials and a spate of letters of protest shot off to the MoD last year and this year by both MBDA and Saab, pointing to what they said were unfair waivers granted to the Russian contender. The Swedish and French competitors plainly alleged that the field of play wasn’t level and that the Russian system, manufactured by Russia’s state-owned Konstruktorskoye Byuro Mashynostroyeniya (KBM), was unfairly favoured by Indian test teams.
Today’s declaration of Russia’s Igla-S as victor in the contest has been expected for weeks. In August, Rosoboronexport chief Alexander Mikheev told Livefist in Moscow, “The Igla-S has emerged more cost effective than competitors after the tenders were opened.”
Army sources say while all three systems have had performance or technical compliance niggles since field evaluations began in 2012, the Russian Igla-S had the most significant issues: firing was deemed not successful during field trials, target acquisition continuously failed, and, to top it all, the Igla-S didn’t have a state-of-the-art sight during trials. With today’s declaration of a Russian win, the Indian MoD has signaled that the issues were either addressed, or waivers granted.
Sources tell Livefist that Russia tried to push the 9K333 Verba system into the contest to replace of the Igla-S principally because of the latter’s performance issues in around 2016. However, replacing a product mid-course under an unusually strict set of targets charted out in the RfP was simply not an option, and would have meant an instant reboot to the contest. Russia was told the Verba couldn’t come anywhere near the race, and the VSHORADS contest would only test the Igla-S.
Source :- livefistdefence
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