India, Russia deal: India buys Igla-S MPADS and begins production

As we approach the second anniversary of the Ukrainian conflict, Russia has entered into an arms pact with India as a strategic countermeasure against Pakistan and China. Concurrently, there are speculations that Pakistan has aligned with American firms to supply weaponry to Ukraine in its confrontation with Russia. 

India, Russia deal: India buys Igla-S MPADS and begins production
Photo credit: Russian MoD

As per the Russian state news agency, TASS, on November 14, a top official in charge of arms export announced that Russia has struck a deal to provide India with Igla-S handheld anti-aircraft missiles. The deal also includes a license for localized Igla production within India. 

The chief of the state-run arms export firm, Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheyev confirmed, “The required paperwork has been sanctioned. Currently, in collaboration with an Indian private company, we are setting up the manufacturing of Igla-S MANPADS on Indian soil.” 

The Russian Igla-S

The Igla-S, a man-portable air defense system [MANPADS], functions as a crucial defensive layer against airborne threats within a multi-faceted air defense system. It’s explicitly engineered to engage low-altitude aircraft.

When dealing with aerial threats like UAVs and cruise missiles, the Igla-S has a distinct advantage. It’s capable of recognizing these threats straight away and withdrawing, regardless of the time of day, any distracting background noise, or even decoy flares—commonly referred to as jammers. Furthermore, it is adept at engaging a variety of aircraft and helicopters that are visible. 

The Igla-S represents a more strategic version of the Igla MANPADS, particularly for firing upon and identifying cruise missiles. This missile boasts a state-of-the-art, two-channel optical seeker along with a logic unit. 

Deadly reputation

With its sophisticated cruise missile shooting and target identification abilities, the Igla-S further establishes itself as a more operationally powerful version of the Igla MANPADS.

The Igla-S gains its deadly reputation not only from its larger warhead, but also from its laser-based proximity fuse, algorithm-determined ideal timing for detonation, and outstanding accuracy. The warhead sees an escalation in the quantity of fragments and explosive charges, further increasing its lethality. 

Negotiations from 2022

At the Army 2022 International Forum in Russia, Dmitry Shugayev, acting director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation at that time, revealed to TASS that plans were underway between the two entities to supply and manufacture portable air defense systems through a licensing agreement.

A few months following Russia’s indication of a prospective Igla-S agreement with India during the Aero India 2023 exhibition, a contract for local production has recently been finalized. Vladimir Drozhzhov, the Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, expressed anticipation for India’s decision related to the contract, stating, “The contract on supply and licensed production of Igla-S man-portable air defense systems waits for a nod from the Indian side.”

India is no stranger to the Igla-S. Following numerous acquisitions of the system from Russia via an emergency procurement channel, the Indian Army officially added them to their armory in April 2022. Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry is mulling over a more substantial contract for Igla-S systems. This potential agreement forms part of the discussions related to the Very Short-Range Air Defense [VSHORAD] deal.

Deepening cooperation

As this year rapidly approaches its close, recent developments have seen an exciting new agreement reached just in the nick of time. Sharing information with another Russian publication, Mikheyev divulged, “Rosoboronexport is making strides with Indian commercial and state-run enterprises, knitting together combined production of aviation armaments, and integrating them into India’s existing aerial fleet.” The identity of the Indian companies involved and when production is set to kick off remains under wraps. 

Meanwhile, other news is beginning to stir. As per the latest reports, Pakistan, a longstanding rival and adversarial neighbor to India, has inked a deal with US firms in the preceding year to make possible a transfer of armaments to Ukraine. 

Such charges don’t fall in line with Pakistan’s strategic posturing. Indeed, the country has been meticulously treading a narrow path, attempting not to offend Russia.

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