The induction of the indigenous ‘Nag’ anti-tank missile has hit another stumbling block as the Indian Army has expressed its discontent over the the missile carrier NAMICA (Nag missile tracked carriers). The Indian Army has now sought re-designing of the NAMICA for optimum performance. It has been established that the NAMICA must have enhanced features that will ensure that the NAMICA complements the third generation Nag ATGM.
The Indian Army’s bone of contention is with the NAMICA’s limited capabilities. The Indian Army has sought additional features such as a panoramic sight for two commanders, against the present system of having only one such facility for the gunner. Hence, an overhaul in the designing of the NAMICA is being suggested by the Indian Army. Also, an innovation in the chassis system and alteration in the pneumatic suspension can increase the mobility of the NAMICA.
As of now, two systems would be made, one by the state-run Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the other by the private giant Larsen & Toubro. A comparative trial of these two carriers will occur next year and the configuration of the production version would be selected from the two.
The NAMICA is a tracked infantry combat vehicle (ICV) built for the Indian Army. It is equipped with a thermal imager for target acquisition. NAMICA is a modified BMP-2 ICV produced as "Sarath" in India. The carrier weighs 14.5 tonnes in full combat load and is capable of moving 7 kilometres per hour in water. The NAMICA carrier was put through transportation trials covering 155 km during summer trials. Namica has already undergone floatation trial and it has proved its channel-crossing ability and its capability to perform other manoeuvres. Each NAMICA can carry 12 missiles with eight of them in ready-to-fire mode. Other salient features include advance sighting systems, high pointing accuracy and ergonomic man-machine interface.
According to analysts, this last moment decision to redesign the NAMICA is a case of lack of foresight and planning by India. The NAMICA has been in existence for at least a decade. Although the Nag ATGM was not ready for this entire period, it reflects a lack of foresight to evaluate the NAMICA this late and go for redesigning at this stage. The evaluation of the NAMICA’s mobility and sensors could have been performed earlier, as the missile was being readied.
Nag is a fire-and-forget anti-tank missile with a short range. It is developed by Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme of the DRDO. It is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) with a 4 kilometre strike range. The Nag ATGM is equipped with the highly potent HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) warhead. Nag ATGM cleared its final validation trials Air Force ranges in Rajasthan in July last year and was expected to be ready for induction this year. In its trials, the missile proved its capability against both moving and stationary targets, covering varying ranges of 500 meters to 2,600 metres. Nag ATGM has already seen two decades of development. The Indian Army has already placed an initial order for 443 missiles and 13 Namicas.