August 26, 2009: The Indian Army has been allowed to buy Israeli air defense systems to protect its most important bases from air attack. Last year, the Indian Air Force finally got the Israeli Spyder anti-aircraft system, after several years of battling the Indian procurement bureaucrats. The Indian Air Force had had originally wanted to buy 24 Israeli Spyder anti-aircraft missile systems, but ended up settling for 18. The army is still negotiating with the bureaucrats and politicians on the size of the order.
Spyder is a mobile, short range system using, as many such systems do these days, air-to-air missiles. Spyder launchers (truck mounted, with four box like launch cells each) can carry either the Python 5 heat seeking missile (ten feet long, 231 pounds, with a range of 15 kilometers) or the Derby radar guided missile (11.2 feet long, 267 pounds, with a range of 65 kilometers). The Derby is actually a larger Python, with more fuel and a different guidance system.
Each Spyder system has four missile launcher trucks, a radar truck and a missile re-supply truck. Each system costs about $11 million. Spyder radar system has a maximum range of 100 kilometers. The missiles can hit targets as high as 28,000 feet and as low as 65 feet. Deliveries will begin in 2011.
Israel has become the second largest supplier (after Russia) of military equipment to India. Previous purchases include UAVs and sensors for the Kashmir border. India has been satisfied with the Israeli equipment. But as the purchases climbed past the billion dollar mark, allegations of bribery began to appear. There was also a lot of opposition from leftist politicians, to buying from Israel. But the military knows Israeli weapons and equipment provide the best value for the money, and have kept pushing for these purchases.