Over a dozen Israeli companies will be displaying their military technology at the Aero India 2017 convention in Bengaluru, India, this coming week, showcasing the continued cooperation between Israeli and Indian companies in large-scale security deals in recent years.
Aero India 2017 is the world’s second-largest air show after the Paris Air Show. Cutting- edge drones and other strategic defense systems built by Israeli companies will be showcased at the event, which runs from February 14-18.
SIBAT – Defense Ministry International Defense Cooperation Authority director Michel Ben-Baruch, a retired brigadier general, said in a statement that there has been a “strengthening of cooperation between Israel and India in many fields” in recent years, noting that the most prominent area in which the two countries are cooperating is defense technology.
“Interest in cyber defense, in particular, is on the rise in India and the region as a whole,” he said. “Israeli companies have developed innovative solutions in this field and are already exporting them to countries in the region. We at SIBAT are working to connect the needs of the countries in the region, cyber or otherwise, with Israeli technologies, for mutual benefit.”
Eleven Israeli companies – Elbit, IAI, Rafael, Aeronautics, Astronautics, Controp, AeroMaoz, Al Cielo, Hydromechanical, Nir-Or and Physical Logic – will exhibit their advanced solutions in the fields of cyber, avionics, electronic warfare, unmanned systems, missiles, and more at the convention. Nine other Israeli companies – Accubeat, Elmo, MORE, Opgal, Orbit Communication, Orbit FR, Orion Advanced Systems, SGD and Video Inform – will showcase their technology outside the Israel Pavilion.
Israel has been supplying India with various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years, making India one of Israel’s largest buyers of military hardware.
But until recently most of the transactions have been kept quiet.
This year Israel and India are celebrating 25 years of bilateral diplomatic ties, with Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi expected to undertake the historic first visit by an Indian PM to Jerusalem this upcoming summer to highlight the growing bilateral relationship.
India and Israel gained independence from Britain within nine months of each other in 1947 and 1948. But India had voted against the UN partition plan for Palestine, and only recognized the State of Israel in 1950 and it was not until 1992 that Delhi and Jerusalem formally established diplomatic relations.
Since the recognition of Israel by India, Delhi’s foreign policy has been characterized by a pro-Arab stance despite Israeli military aid to India during India’s conflicts with China in 1962 and Pakistan in 1965.
But recently ties have shifted.
Last March, Indian Air Force chief Arup Raha visited Israel and held wide-ranging talks with Israeli defense officials, including former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon. The visit was “a step toward strengthening cooperation between the countries,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said at the time.
In a February 3 interview with India’s Hindustan Times, Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon said the two countries have shared values and face common challenges, especially terrorism.
According to Carmon, defense cooperation between the two countries is a key element growing bilateral ties and reflected the changes in the “architecture of world politics” and the shift in India’s relations with the Arab world and Israel, the paper stated.
“For India, the relations were either with the Arab countries or with Israel. This is not the case anymore, now it is with the Arab countries and with Israel.”
Over the last five years, bilateral, non-defense trade between the two countries has averaged $4.6 billion per annum and defense trade with annual sales worth over $1b.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute rates India the largest importer of arms, with a 14% share in global arms imports between 2011 and 2015, and next to Russia and the United States Israel is the largest supplier of key defense equipment for India as well as in other areas such as agriculture and water management.
Recently the Integrated Underwater Harbor Defense and Surveillance System – developed by Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, was installed at the Port of Mumbai to “enhance the security of valuable naval assets against asymmetric threats.” In November 2008, ten terrorists belonging to the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar- e-Taiba infiltrated Mumbai by sea and killed 166 people, including six Jews at the city’s Chabad center, in one of India’s deadliest terrorist attacks in years.
In November, when President Reuven Rivlin visited Delhi, Modi said both sides would work to counter terrorism, radicalism and extremism.
“Our people are constantly threatened by forces of terrorism and extremism,” he said. “We recognize that terrorism is a global challenge and knows no boundaries.”
“We agreed that the international community must act with resolve and determination against terrorist networks and states that harbor them,” Modi said. “Failure to act and silence of speech only encourages the terrorists.”