Murphy's Law: Stealing Time


August 24, 2008:  A corruption investigation has delayed the Indian purchase of an Israeli air-defense system for two years. India had wanted to buy 24 Israeli Spyder anti-aircraft missile systems. 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.

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. The Indian Defense minister was accused of taking at least $120,000 in bribes from Israeli suppliers. The accusations were not proven, but the purchases were delayed up to two years. India has long had a problem with bribery connected with weapons purchases. It's not just India. Neighboring Bangladesh is currently investigating a former prime minister for bribery in the purchase of MiG-29 fighters in the late 1990s. To the south, Sri Lanka has had similar investigations concerning the purchase of second hand Russian warplanes. Pakistan also has these problems, but doesn't investigate them as much.

The corruption not only increases the price of military equipment, but distorts the selection process (often obtaining less effective items) and often delays delivery while anti-corruption efforts grind away.


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