Indo-Israeli Defence Cooperation (Army)
Praising Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Israel wants to take advantage of it and added that the NDA Government has brought a new vigour to bilateral defence ties
Praising Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Israel wants to take advantage of it and added that the NDA Government has brought a new vigour to bilateral defence ties Lt General Naresh Chand (Retd)
FOR ABOUT FOUR DECADES India had no direct relations with Israel but due to changes in the international geostrategic scenario, India decided to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Since its birth, Israel was motivated to develop its armament industry because of security threats surrounding it, embargoes, national pride and its endeavour to be independent in defence weapons and technology. It has also got great support from the United States in this field. As a result, Israel has acquired a great degree of self-sufficiency in a vast range of platforms, lethal weapons and sensors. Their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are world-class. During various conflicts like Kargil, India has been looking towards Israel for defence technology and weapons. Fighting terrorism is another area where India has been seeking their cooperation. They were the first ones to provide Green Pine radars for missile defence. Salient aspects of defence cooperation for land forces is highlighted below.
Small arms for lnfantry and Special Forces.
India has acquired Tavor-21 5.56mm assault rifles and Galil sniper rifles. It is reported that acquisition of Desert Eagle/Jericho handguns, Micro-Uzi machine pistols and Negev 5.56mm light machine guns for special forces is also on the cards.
F-INSAS (future infantry soldier as a system) project.
Israel’s expertise in networking systems, sensors and defence electronics is well known. Thus collaboration with Israel in this field will help in developing F-INSAS rapidly.
India has already imported Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Heron and Searcher for the Indian Army as well as the Navy and the Air Force. Heron is medium altitude (about 30,000 ft), long-endurance UAV and thus is being used in the mountainous region. Searcher has a ceiling of about 15,000 ft and is being employed in the plains (Searcher Mk1) and Searcher Mk2 is being used in the desert terrain. IAI’s BirdEye 650D is an advanced, affordable, long-endurance mini-UAS and provides real-time stabilised day/night imagery data
The naval version has been successfully fired on December 30, 2015, from INS Kolkata. Land version called medium-range SAM (MRSAM), is said to be a very advanced SAM that can track and shoot down incoming missiles and other flying objects with a very high level of accuracy. While LRSAM is for Navy, the Air Force has already an order for MRSAM and the army variant has been recently approved. The system includes a missile and multi-functional surveillance and threat alert radar for detection, tracking and guidance of the missile. An Army version of the MRSAM for one regiment worth about 9,000 crore (about $1.4 billion) was agreed upon between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his Israeli counterpart Moshe Ya’alon during his visit to India in February 2015. However, given the requirement this number is expected to go up. The missiles will be manufactured by the Bharat Dynamics Limited.
Artillery Systems 130mm towed gun.
This gun was being made into 155-calibre by India’s Ordnance Factory Board with collaboration with Soltam of Israel. Later on Soltam was blacklisted by the Ministry of Defence but it is believed that the new Defence Procurement Procedure being released before Defexpo 2016 will rationalise the norms for blacklisting so that India’s defence modernisation is not adversely effected.
To make up the large voids in all types of artillery guns, Kalyani Strategic Systems Limited (KSSL) has tied up with Elbit of Israel to jointly produce artillery guns in India. It is claimed that Bharat-52 is a long-range 155mm/52-calibre gun is the first indigenous solution of its kind, designed and developed in India. Bharat-52 is a futuristic towed gun, providing a highly manoeuvrable field artillery solution.
Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited India during February 2015 when he stated that Israel was ready to share cutting-edge defence technologies with India and both countries will go for codevelopment of a number of key weapon systems soon. He added that Israel was ready to set up manufacturing facilities in India. Praising Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, he said Israel wants to take advantage of it and added that the NDA Government has brought a new vigour to bilateral defence ties. “Modi’s concept of ‘Make in India’ is encouraging. We are flexible to make everything convenient to India,” he said. This statement of Moshe Ya’alon is very encouraging and will boost the cooperation between India and Israel to greater heights specially with the planned visit of Prime Minister Modi to Israel shortly.
Israeli defence company contractor Elta has become the first firm that will make mandatory investments in India under the new offset clause that has been made standard for all contracts worth 300 crore or more (as per the old policy). Bagging a deal worth 833 crore for medium power radars for the IAF, Elta invested 30 per cent of the amount, about 250 crore, back into Indian industry in December 2006.