India 'Spikes' U.S. Hopes, Rejects Javelin

To me the only story from among the bunch of programmes cleared by the Indian MoD yesterday was the government's decision to reject the U.S. Raytheon-Lockheed Martin JAVELIN anti-tank guided missile and choose Israel's Rafael ADS SPIKE. Decks stand cleared now for a $522 million deal for over 300 launchers and 8,000 missiles from Rafael. The decision brings to a close a particularly confounding procurement flightpath.

India's decision, only a few weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned from a high profile visit to the U.S., hits where it hurts. While Washington definitely can't complain about its slice of the Indian arms deal pie, the JAVELIN deal had seen a particularly strenuous political push, with the JAVELIN becoming pretty much the proposed manna to revive the Defence Trade & Technology Initiative (DTTI). U.S. Sec Def Hagel provided the biggest possible push when he was in Delhi in August. The deal got another push when the Prime Minister was in Washington just weeks ago. The U.S. offer was to sell India the JAVELIN, transfer technology to manufacture it in India, and then co-develop a new version for the armies of both countries. India didn't bite.

Questions over U.S. reliability and commitment to giving India what it wanted landed in 2012 with reports suggesting that the Pentagon had scaled down the number of JAVELIN systems that could be exported to India. It took then Sec Def Leon Panetta to calm things down, though there was definitely damage done. Over the following two years, the U.S. mounted the JAVELIN campaign aggressively, even as other deals worked out.

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