Israel has signed a nearly $2 billion (Rs 13,000 crore) deal with India to supply advanced missile defence systems, bolstering bilateral military ties, under a contract said to be the largest in Israel's defence industries’ history.
In a mega-contract worth over $1.6 billion, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will provide advanced medium-range surface-to-air missile systems (MR-SAM) to the Indian Army.
IAI said it would also supply additional long-range air and missile defence systems (LRSAM) for the first locally produced Indian aircraft carrier, the company said in a statement on Thursday, describing the deal the largest in Israel’s defence industries’ history.
The deal was approved by the cabinet in February and comes ahead of a possible visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July this year.
The MR-SAM, a land-based version of the LRSAM, will have a strike range of up to 70 km.
India is Israel’s largest buyer of military hardware and the latter has been supplying various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years but the transactions have largely remained behind the curtains.
The contract is worth $1.6 billion for IAI, with the rest going to another state-owned defence company, Rafael, that will be providing components for the systems.
‘The current contracts represent an enormous expression of confidence by the government of India in IAI’s capabilities and advanced technologies, which are being developed with our local partners as part of the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ policy,’ IAI CEO Joseph Weiss said in a statement.
President Reuven Rivlin, who is said to have discussed the deal with Indian leaders during his trip to India early this year, congratulated Weiss on the ‘historic’ deal terming it truly ‘exceptional’.
“Please pass on my congratulations to all who contributed to this important achievement. You have come such a long way to arrive at this point, it is truly exceptional,” Rivlin told IAI’s CEO.
Weiss responded calling it a ‘truly remarkable achievement’ and ‘a wonderful gift for the upcoming festival (passover)’ to be celebrated next week.
Israel’s willingness to share technology and form joint ventures with Indian companies to develop and manufacture military equipment supporting the ‘Make in India’ initiative is said to have been well received in New Delhi.
In the case of MR-SAM, an advanced air and missile defence system that provides protection against a variety of aerial threats, the technology is said to have been jointly developed by IAI and Defence Research and Development Organisation in collaboration with Rafael and IAI’s Elta division.
Indian companies such as BEL and L&T are said to have also participated in the project.
MR-SAM’s current version is operational with the Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and Israel Defence Forces.
The system includes an advanced phased-array radar, command and control, mobile launchers and missiles with advanced RF seekers.