The Russian government launched a broadside against India’s decision to award contracts to South Korea for a self-propelled anti-aircraft defence system.

According to the newspaper “The Korea JoongAng Daily“, the Indian military selected a Korean-built Biho hybrid self-propelled anti-aircraft defence system as a candidate for 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 Defence 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 Defence Systems, the 30 mm 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 60 km/h. Its effective range is 3 km and it has a high firing rate of 1,200 rounds/minute.

The Biho have detection distance of 21 km and excellent tracking and aiming capability against enemy aircraft infiltration. Also system carries 4 short-range surface-to-air missile systems with effective ranges of 5 km and has two 30 mm machines guns for ground engagement along with anti-aircraft engagement.

Moscow, however, a traditional supplier of arms to India, apparently ordered its Defence 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 Defence Ministry asking it to re-evaluate the bidding process.

Newspaper also noted that, defence analysts in Seoul say it may be difficult for Korea to overcome the 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.”