Israeli defense industries are hoping for multi-million dollar contracts in India after New Delhi recently increased its defense budget for the coming year by 4 percent to a whopping $32 billion.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is preparing to increase its staff in New Delhi to four full-time employees in place of the single worker currently stationed there. It is also waiting for expected approval from the Israeli and Indian governments to establish a joint venture with India’s Bharat Electronic Ltd., which will provide it with a foothold in the country.

Israel is today one of India’s top defense suppliers alongside Russia, with sales since the beginning of the 1990s amounting to around $9b. Recent deals include a $1.4b. contract signed last March for the development and procurement of the Barak 8 medium-range surface-to-air missile.

“This is a growing market with tremendous potential now for all Israeli companies,” a defense official said last week.

Rafael is currently competing for a number of tenders in India, including a multi-million contract to supply the Indian Army with anti-tank missiles, as well as another contract to supply the army with active protection systems.

Israel Aerospace Industries, which has sold India unmanned aerial vehicles and other platforms over the years, is also hoping to score major contracts in India and is in discussions with the Indian Air Force about the possible sale of another three Phalcon airborne early-warning and control aircraft in addition to the three already under order.

In related news, another Israeli firm, Rafael and Aeronautics, sent several UAV systems to Chile last week to assist security forces there in surveying the damage to the country caused by the recent earthquake. The UAVs will also be used by police to prevent looting.

Last week, the Chilean government announced that despite the earthquake, it was going ahead with plans to hold the FIDAE defense trade show in Santiago. The show will open later this month, and Israel will erect a large pavilion for a number of defense companies. It will display its wares, including Rafael, IAI, Plasan Sasa, Elbit Systems and Rada.

As an act of solidarity with Chile, Rafael has decided to donate close to $50,000 to two charities set up to assist people affected by the quake.

“We are proud to return to Chile after the earthquake,” said Rafael Executive Vice President for Marketing Lova Drori.

“Chile is a close friend of Israel, and we will be at FIDAE in full force to show our support.”

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