The Russian government is apparently upset over New Delhi’s decision to award a contract to a South Korean defence company for a self-propelled anti-aircraft defence system. Russia is the biggest defence supplier to India and has been aggravated off-late by incursions of “other nations” in the lucrative Indian defence market.
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According to “The Korea JoongAng Daily“, the Indian military selected a South Korean-built Biho hybrid self-propelled anti-aircraft defence system as a candidate for the acquisition last October after a bidding process involving a number of foreign arms makers as part of a recent plan by New Delhi to upgrade its air defences.
The bidding was first officially announced in 2013, and the candidate weapons were evaluated throughout 2015 and tested in 2017.
In the 2013 global tender, Indian Army shortlisted three companies — Hanwha Defense Systems, which offered its Hybrid Biho system, and Russian companies Almaz Antey, which offered its upgraded Tunguska system, and KBP Tula, which offer its Pantsir system.
The Korean defence industry was eyeing the Indian market as a chance to move away from domestic sales to exports. The contract involves exporting 104 Biho systems, 97 ammunition carriers, 39 command vehicles, 4,928 missiles and 172,260 rounds of ammunition, bringing the contract’s total value to 2.5 to 3 trillion won.
According to Hanwha Defense Systems, the 30mm twin self-propelled anti-aircraft defence system Biho demonstrates excellent engagement capability under the battlefield conditions of the mountainous Korean peninsula. It has outstanding manoeuvrability with a maximum speed of 60km/h. Its effective range is 3 km and it has a high firing rate of 1,200rounds/minute.
The Biho have detection distance of 21km and excellent tracking and aiming capability against enemy aircraft infiltration. Additionally, the system carries 4 short-range surface-to-air missile systems with effective ranges of 5km and has two 30mm machines guns for ground engagement along with anti-aircraft engagement.
Moscow, however, a traditional supplier of arms to India, apparently ordered its Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu to publicly express dissatisfaction with the decision on the sidelines of a military conference between the two countries Dec. 18.
In addition, the Russian side statement that the tests were conducted unfairly and require a repeat.
The Russians followed this up by sending an official request to the Indian Defense Ministry asking it to re-evaluate the bidding process. The paper also noted that many defence experts in Seoul say it may be difficult for Korea to overcome Russian interference.
“The fact that its weapons were outgunned in the bidding must have come at a major shock to Russia, which prides itself as the leading manufacturer of combined defence systems,” the Korean official said. “We expect them to attempt to block this deal to the end.”