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INDO-ISRAEL DEFENCE COOPERATION

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The Indo-Israel relation go beyond military relations. Currently Israel is the third largest supplier of defence items to India. However, looking at the defence contracts in pipeline, it is gearing to be the top supplier for Indian requirement for defence weapons and ammunition in near future.

The year 2017 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of Indo-Israeli relations and the year would mark a historic event as Prime Minister of India would visit Israel in June this year. Visit to Israel is important from diplomatic, friendship and military point of view.

The orders placed in last 3 years and Value in Rs Crores on some of the leading supplier countries is shown above:-

If we closely look at figures of the orders placed by India for supplying arms, USA stood first, Russia stood second, Israel is in the third position, and France comes the fourth position.

Israel was the third-largest arms supplier to India in the three fiscal years ending March 2016, having bagged 10 deals worth a total of INR 76 billion ~ ($1.2 billion), according to an Indian parliament report. Only the U.S. and Russia have made more defense deals with India during the period. India-Israel ties have great strength and value in the relationship as Israel is one of India's foremost supplier of weapons and related high-end technology.

In case we analyse the pattern of Arms Supplied by Israel to India during 2000-2016 (in $ millions), it is evident that India continues to increasingly order arms from Israel, an indicator to healthy military and diplomatic relationship.

By carefully observing the figures we can see that over the sixteen years Israel's arms supplies has increased many fold.

Israeli Defence Industry

Israel produces a wide range of products from ammunition, small arms and artillery pieces to sophisticated electronic systems and the world's most advanced tank. The development of a sophisticated defense industry inevitably led to exports, which today account for a majority of its revenues and allows the country's defense industry to compete against some of the largest companies in the world for foreign contracts.

There are approximately 150 defense firms in Israel, with combined revenues of an estimated $ 2 billion.

The three largest entities are the government-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel Military Industries Ltd (IMI) and the Rafael Arms Development Authority, all of which produce a wide range of conventional arms and advanced defense electronics. The medium-sized privately owned companies include Elbit Systems and the Tadiran Group, which focus mainly on defense electronics. The smaller firms produce a narrower range of products. In all, the industry employs close to 50,000 people, all of whom share a commitment to high levels of research and development and the ability to make use of the IDF's combat experience.

Recently, in view of the emerging needs of Indian industry in order to prepare for the large-scale procurement of armored vehicles by the Indian army expected in the coming years, a  seminar conducted by SIBAT in India. Representatives of over 20 Israeli companies involved in the development and production program for the Merkava tank and Namer Armored Personnel Carrier attended, beside a number of Indian industry member participated.

In many ways, the Israeli-Indian arms transfer relationship has been a mutually beneficial enterprise. In the first place, Israeli technology fills critical gaps in India's woefully deficient domestic defence industrial base. The Israeli defence companies are willing to provide the requisite technology with potential defence deals and are also ready for joint development in defence which has been missing in the deals concluded with US and European countries. As India strives to develop its own broader industrial capabilities, the defence partnerships with friendly international defence players could provide an avenue for capability and knowledge transfers. This would also enable countries to grow not only their defence industry base but also benefit SMEs, supply chains and local distribution networks.

Procurements in Pipe line

The medium-range surface-to-air missiles (MRSAM) deal with Israel Aerospace Industries  worth about $ 2 billion is the Israel's biggest defence contract. The other major defence deals in pipeline are for the Spike anti-tank missiles for the Indian Army and Barak-8 air defence missiles for the Navy valued at $ 1.5 billion. Some past procurement are:-

  • Searcher and Heron surveillance UAVs
  • Harpy and Harop loitering anti-radiation drones
  • The Popeye air-to-ground missile
  • The Python-4 air-to-air missile
  • The Spike anti-tank missile
  • The SPYDER air-defence system (which employs both the Derby and Python-5 missiles)
  • The Barak-1 air-defence missile (outfitted to Indian naval vessels)
  • The Green Pine multifunctional (search, detection, track, and guidance) missile-defence radar
  • The Phalcon EL/M-2090 airborne early-warning and control (AEW+C) radar, fitted on Russian Il-76 transport aircraft
  • The Lightening night/adverse weather precision-targeting pod (for fighter jets)

Conclusion

Military diplomacy seems to have found strong foothold in the new Government's policy as they are keen to strengthen defense relations with friendly foreign countries coupled with being more pro-active. It is true that India and Israel is making sincere efforts to reconstruct friendly, diplomatic and militarily relations. Source says that Indo-Israel relation will go beyond military relations. It is said that Free Trade Agreement between both countries is in progress. The defense cooperation for many years has been central pillars of the relationship.

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