A $500 million sale of Rafael's Spike missiles to India has hit a stumbling block: India is demanding new tests for the Israeli homing missiles in the summer of 2019. The tests will focus on the missile's infrared systems.
Spike is a portable "fire and forget" anti-tank missile produced by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, a government-owned firm.
India's main argument for the additional tests is that the missile has so far failed to withstand high temperatures. According to foreign reports, this is a particular concern for India as it plants to operate them in desert conditions.
The deal, therefore, could only be completed in late 2019 at the earliest – and even then pending an agreement between the governments of Israel and India.
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And yet a growing concern is India is reconsidering the deal altogether, and instead may rely on Indian weapons manufacturers.
Significant diplomatic efforts have gone into the missile deal, namely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to India last January. During that visit, Netanyahu declared that the "Spike deal is back on the table" after India's Defense Ministry pulled out of a similar deal.
The Spike missile, with its different versions, is one of Rafael's best-selling products. It is a precision-guided missile capable of being launched from gunships, planes, warships and vehicle, with a range of up to 30 kilometers.
To date, Rafael has sold more than 30,000 Spike missiles to some 30 countries. In recent months talks have reportedly been launched to sell the weapons to Estonia, the Philippines and Australia. None of these transactions, however, comes close in scope to the planned deal with India.