The Indian Army has inducted a small number of Igla-S man-portable air defense (MANPADS) systems to bolster its defense capabilities amid ongoing tensions with China and Pakistan.
India procured the Russian systems through emergency financial powers, allowing the army to purchase the weapons immediately without further clearances.
In December 2021, 216 missiles, 24 launchers, and additional testing equipment were delivered to the South Asian nation as part of the procurement.
India’s decision to buy the Igla-S MANPADS from Russia came after the Balakot airstrike in February 2019 and the standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh in May 2020.
A larger contract for Igla-S systems under the Very Short-Range Air Defense System agreement is under review by the Indian defense ministry.
The Igla-S System
An advanced variant of the Igla MANPADS, the Igla-S system can engage low-flying aircraft and helicopters and identify air targets such as cruise missiles and drones.
It reportedly serves as the last line of defense against enemy threats in a multi-layered air defense system.
The system comprises the 9M342 missile, the 9P522 launching mechanism, the 9V866-2 mobile test station, and the 9F719-2 test set.
“Igla-S man-portable air defense system is designed to defeat all types of visible fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft on head-on and in pursuit courses as well as small aerial targets like cruise missiles around the clock under induced thermal and background noise,” Rosoboronexport said on its website.