September 5, 2008: India is
finally getting its anti-aircraft systems from Israel. A corruption
investigation has delayed the Indian purchase for over two years. India had originally
wanted to buy 24 Israeli Spyder anti-aircraft missile systems, but is now only
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.