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IAF chief Browne in Israel to deepen defence ties

January 21, 2013 14:27 IST

Amid deepening ties between India and Israel, Chief of Air Staff N A K Browne has held strategic talks with his Israeli counterpart and will meet defence top brass, furthering the ongoing bilateral military cooperation.

"This is a part of routine reciprocal visits between chiefs of various wings of the defence forces of the two countries", defence source in New Delhi told PTI.

However, "the visit underlines a very strong strategic relationship between the two countries where cooperation with India would probably rank only second to the United States", the source said.

Browne was India's first defence attache to Israel and is credited with setting up the defence wing at the Indian mission in 1997.

The visit started Sunday with the presentation of a combined guard of honour at the Kirya (Israel's defence establishment base in Tel Aviv). Browne also met and discussed about ongoing cooperation with his host, Israel Air Force chief Amir Eshel.

The Chief of Air staff, who is also the current chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, is scheduled to call on Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defence Forces Chief, Benny Gantz, during his four-day visit.

At present, the two main projects between India and Israel are the upgrade of all its unmanned aerial vehicles with the three services and the medium range-surface to air missile system being co-developed by the DRDO and Israeli firms, officials said.

India has emerged as the largest buyer of Israeli arms and equipments. Israel's total defence exports to India is said to have touched $9 billion since 1997.

Israel has supplied a wide range of defence equipments to India, including the much talked about Phalcon AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Aircraft) fitted on board Russian Ilyushin 76 four-engine jets.

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