In another sign of the strong defense ties between Israel and India, the government-owned Rafael defense company has secured a $1 billion deal to sell advanced surface-to-air missiles to the Indian Armed Forces. Under the deal, approved last week by the Indian cabinet, Rafael will supply 18 Spyder mobile missile systems by 2012. Last year, Israel overtook Russia as the main supplier of defense systems to India. The Spyder ensures protection of high-value assets as well as maneuvering combat forces. The system is an all-weather, network-centric, self-propelled, multi-launch, quick-reaction air defense system. Vertical launch enables 360-degree missile launching, within two seconds of the target being declared hostile by the system. The system, built by Rafael and the MBT missile division of Israel Aircraft Industriesâ€š (IAI) subsidiary Elta, Spyder is also capable of simultaneously engaging a number of targets and can operate day or night. According to the Times of India, the deal was held up for several months due to allegations that IAI and Rafael had given kickbacks to officials in New Delhi. The government, the newspaper said, decided not to blacklist the Israeli defense firms due to the importance of the projects.