The Russian arms agency Rosoboronexport failed to appear at the re-confirmatory trials to that were held a few months back for the Indian tri-service Very Short Range Air Defense (VSHORAD) system tender.
The Russians have been fielding their Igla variant, already in service in the Indian Army. Also in competition are the European company MBDA, which is fielding the Mistral VSHORAD and Sweden’s Saab which has offered the RBS-70 NG system.Several rounds of trials have been carried out, so far. In May 2012, trials were held at the Mahajan range, in which the Russians managed to score only a single hit out of four. Again during sea trials, the Russian system managed only a single hit out of two. Rosoboronexport was allowed to repeat the Mahajan trials in winter of 2012, in which it managed all four hits. But its sight failed during high altitude trials, following which they were asked to modify their sight’s lens, receiver metrics and software.
Having persisted in the competition, they were invited to try again this summer at the Mahajan range.
Indian evaluators asked them to demonstrate firing of their system in high temperatures at Mahajan by August 15 this year, to demonstrate the functionality of the modified sight. As it turned out, everybody except the Russians showed up.
Instead, Rosoboronexport wrote to the Indian evaluators saying that they did not feel it necessary to conduct another demonstration of their system.
Indian evaluators have, so far, been especially accommodating to the Russian agency, having allowed them to work on system modifications through the course of the trials that have been on for over two years, now.
In fact, some evaluators are beginning to question the latitude provided to the Russians. Part of the problem is that there is no reference or provision of confirmatory or re-confirmatory trials in the Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP). This is merely conducted as part of the standard process of the evaluating agency, which can allow fairly wide and possibly subjective discretion on accommodations, waivers and exemptions on technical issues that could ultimately tilt the contest one way or the other.
It is also understood that the Russian agency is attempting to have the question of their VSHORAD system placed on the agenda of the annual India Russia Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) meet that is usually held in November.
But Indian evaluators are expected to designate fresh dates for summer trials.
The Indian armed forces are planning to acquire 5185 missiles and 800 launchers through this tender, which was expected to be worth USD 5.4 billion in 2011. Follow-on orders for the VSHORAD system could go up to 15,000 units.