India Optel Limited exported its Anti-Tank Guided Missile Sight to UAE's Sciencom FZE, making it the second consignment of Indian exports dispatched this month. India Optel Limited flagged off its inaugural export consignment of the Missile Sight 9SH-119-M1

India Optel Limited, a Defence Public Sector Unit (DPSU), flagged off its first export consignment of the optical sight 9SH-119 M1, utilised in India's Soviet-era Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) systems, to United Arab Emirates' Sciencom FZE on October 25, 2023.

"Committed to be Soldier's Eye," affirmed the Indian DPSU in an official statement.

The Development of Soviet System And Its Eyes

The Missile Sight 9SH-119-M1, of Soviet origin, plays a pivotal role in the integration of the Anti-tank Guided Missile. India's acquisition of Transfer of Technology (ToT) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme in the 1980s helped it to further develop the capabilities of the subcomponents, leading to the development of the Flame, an adapted launcher compatible with the Milan equipment, a French Anti-tank Guided Missile (ATGM) system. This adaptation was inspired by the fact that India had an abundance of Milan ATGMs in its arsenal and that there was a resemblance in the mechanism the Russian ATGM used with the erstwhile Franco-German Milan missile system.

This sight is currently deployed on India's BMP-2 Sarath Infantry Fighting Vehicles, significantly augmenting their operational effectiveness. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) boasts an arsenal of approximately 800 BMP-3s along with their turrets mounted on 8x8 platforms. The ultimate end user for this technology is expected to be Sciencom FZE in Sharjah. Unlike its predecessors, the missile was among the first among Soviet era ATGMs to receive a wire-guided Semi-Automatic Command to Line of Sight (SACLOS) guidance system. This semi-automatic system significantly enhances accuracy, with the operator simply needing to maintain a crosshair on the target while the guidance system autonomously directs the missile. The missile also had a hit probability of 80-90 percent, a substantial improvement over the preceding Soviet ATGMs. Its unique features made it comparable to some of its older non-modified Western counterparts like the American BGM-71 TOW and the Franco-German MILAN around the 90s and to some extent in the early 2000s.

The Missile Sight 9SH-119-M1 offers 10 times magnification and a 5-degree field of view. It operates with a thermal battery for sustained performance. Notably, its target tracking rate of 1°/sec enables effective engagement even with fast-moving targets at considerable distances. With the integration of this Sight, the firing rate of the system experiences a boost, achieving an impressive rate of up to three missiles per minute.

Pinaka Exported

In an earlier development this month, Ordnance Factory Ambajhari (OFAJ) also exported its maiden consignment of the Pinaka MK-1 enhanced rocket on October 5. The event was graced by the presence of Somnath Tripathy, General Manager of the Ordnance Factories. The export customer for these improved Pinakas is being surmised to be Armenia.

India's Defence Exports Skyrocket, Ambitions For A Transition

India's defence exports have witnessed an extraordinary surge, escalating from Rs. 686 Crore in FY 2013-14 to Rs. 16,000 Crore in FY 2022-23, marking a 23-fold increase, as reported by the Indian Ministry of Defence earlier this year. Once primarily known as a defence equipment importer, India is now striving to transition into a weapons exporting nation, reaching over 85 countries, according to data from the MoD. Over 100 firms are actively involved in exporting defence products. The private sector has also emerged as a significant player, with policies like the bifurcation of OFB into small subsidiaries catalysing the process.

India Optel ltd, stands as one such example that, after the OFB split, has shown relative success and made the production of defence products relatively more efficient. "About 50 Indian companies in the private sector have contributed to defence exports," states the Ministry of Defence. Major export destinations for India, as per the Department of Defence production, include Italy, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Russia, France, Nepal, Mauritius, Israel, Egypt, UAE, and others. Key defence items in demand are Personal Protective gear, Offshore Patrol Vessels, ALH Helicopters, SU Avionics, Bharati Radios, and various surveillance systems, among others, as per information available on DDP.

The catalysts for this exponential growth lie in the government's strategic policy initiatives and significant reforms over the past nine years. These efforts have streamlined export procedures, making them more industry-friendly and reducing delays, thereby enhancing the 'Ease of Doing Business,' as stated in an MoD statement earlier this year.