India to replace Russian air defense systems under $1.5B program

NEW DELHI — The Indian Air Force has launched a $1.5 billion program to buy new-generation close-in weapon systems to replace obsolete Russian L-70 and ZU-23-2B air defense systems.

A limited tender was issued last week to only domestic companies for the production of close-in weapon systems, or CIWS, under the “Buy & Make (Indian)” procurement category. The local firms would team up with overseas original equipment manufacturers.

Under the proposed CIWS program, the Air Force plans to induct 244 air defense guns, 228 fire control and search radars, and 204,000 programmable bullets.

This is the first air defense program issued to domestic companies for in-country manufacturing, a Ministry of Defence official said.
The CIWS units will be service-specific, with India fielding four air defense guns, two fire control radars, a search radar, a command-and-control unit, four electro-optical fire control systems, communication systems, and a simulator system, according to a senior Air Force official.

The CIWS units will have a short-range, and its air defense guns will have a range of 3.5 kilometers and be capable of firing 200 rounds of ammunition per minute.

Another service official said the Air Force will use CIWS to target fighters, helicopters, UAVs and cruise missiles.

The domestic companies that will bid in the CIWS program are Bharat Forge Limited, Punj Lloyd, Tata Power SED, Larsen & Toubro, Reliance Defence, and Mahindra Defence Systems, as well as state-controlled Bharat Electronics Limited and Ordnance Factory Board.

No domestic company is yet to team up any overseas OEM for CIWS.

The Air Force aims to induct homemade CIWS units within the next seven years and will integrate the systems with air command-and-control systems that perform air traffic and surveillance management functions.


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