INDIAN Army will get their third-generation Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) Nag missiles in next year as the full-fledged production of this missile will start from first half of 2019, informed Dr S Christopher, Chairman, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in a press conference held by DRDO at conference hall of DefExpo 18 venue in Chennai on Friday. “The remaining trials of this missile will be finalised till the end of 2018 and production will start next year onward,” said Dr Christopher. DRDO successfully tested this indigenously designed and developed ATGM in desert conditions against two tank targets in the month of February. The Indian Army has so far not publicly commented on the successful Nag ATGM test, however, DRDO has disclosed it on the platform of Defexpo on Friday.Indian Army officials have repeatedly stated that they expect development trials to be concluded by the end of 2018. The Army has delayed the induction of the Nag, a fire-and-forget ATGM with an estimated range of 4 kilometres, due to numerous technical shortcomings including inadequate thermal sensors.

The missile’s high price tag has also been a point of controversy.The Nag ATGM, manufactured by India’s sole missile producer, state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited, until the recent test had only been fired from an armoured combat vehicle specifically designed for that purpose. DRDO has been working on the Nag ATGM for over a decade. The Army raised demand of 8,000 Nags, although it most likely will place an initial order for only 500 ATGM systems.The service is reportedly pushing for a fast-track procurement of 2,500 third-generation shoulder-fired ATGMs and 96 launchers through a Government-to-Government contract.

Weapon systems under consideration include the Israeli Spike ATGM and the FGM-148 Javelin ATGM. In December 2017, the Government had scrapped a USD 500 million deal with Israeli defence contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd for 321 Spike ATGM systems and 8,356 missiles in favour of an indigenous ATGM system currently under development by DRDO.

The Indian Army originally selected the Spike ATGM over the US-made FGM-148 Javelin ATGM system in October 2014, expecting the Nag ATGM not to be ready for operational deployment for some time. In the press conference all senior officials of DRDO like Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Dr CP Ramanarayanan, Pravin Mehta, Dr Samir Kamat, Dr Sudhir Mishra and others were also present.