What CBI doesnít say: Trishul a DRDO dud, thatís why Barak deal

When the Navy projected a "very threatening scenario for warships" after Kargil, things came to a head in mid-2002. Faced with mounting pressure from the IAF, headed then by Air chief S Krishnaswamy whose force was facing critical obsolescence in air defence systems, the Trishul was de-linked from user service requirements, and pushed back onto the drawing board under then DRDO chief V K Aatre.

The Navy was less patient ó with a capability projection nearing its tenth year with no movement, it had begun to look abroad for stop-gap measures in the 1990s under Admirals V S Shekhawat and Vishnu Bhagwat, finally succeeding in 2000 with the Israeli Barak. The DRDO and even sections of the Navy were not happy, saying the missile was not suitable for Indian warships.

The DRDO, however, said today that "All development work on Trishul has been completed and the project closure is underway." But even if user trials take place and succeed, it's still too little, too late for all three armed forces. The Army and IAF have committed to buying Israeli quick-reaction missiles, deals together worth nearly Rs 4,000 crore, and the Navy has set its eyes on the next generation Barak missile for its warships.

The cost of these deals makes a one-time purchase uneconomical. The biggest possible sign of despondence about Trishul however came in January this year. The Hyderabad-based Defence R&D Laboratory (DRDL), the very establishment that has brought the Trishul this far, entered into an agreement to develop the Barak-II with Israel, with the understanding that co-development will have technological spin-offs, ironically enough, for the Indian guided missile programme.

Like DRDO, Kalam pitched for Trishul

NEW DELHI: A P J Abdul Kalam, who was then Scientific Advisor to the PM, wrote to Fernandes in June 1999 expressing reservations on the proposed Barak purchase and arguing that the Trishul would be operational soon. Post-Kargil, Barak was dovetailed with Kargil purchases.

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