Three Indian Navy warships arrived at Haifa Port on Monday for a three-day visit as part of that nation’s overseas deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and West Coast of Africa.The ships, from the Mumbai- based Indian Navy Western Naval Command, are: the INS Mumbai, a guided-missile destroyer; INS Trishul, a stealth-missile frigate; and INS Aditya, a tanker.The task group is headed by R.-Adm. R.B. Pandit, the flag officer commanding the Western Fleet, who is flying his flag on the Mumbai.The ships arrived on Tuesday and during their stay will engage extensively with the Israel Navy, including both professional and social engagements.Naval vessels from both countries participated in a joint drill when the Indian ships entered into Israeli waters.This is the eighth time Indian ships have docked at an Israeli port, with the first in 2000. “The current visit seeks to underscore India’s peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly countries and, in particular, to strengthen the existing friendship between India and Israel,” read a statement by the Indian Embassy in Israel.Israel and India are celebrating 25 years of bilateral diplomatic ties this year, with Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi scheduled for the first visit by an Indian PM to Jerusalem this summer to highlight that growing relationship.“The India-Israel defense relationship is on a very firm foundation. Geographically we are not close but we have shared interests to countering threats that can come from the maritime domain,” Pandit said aboard the Trishul.“We have benefited from defense technologies, and a number of significant defense acquisitions have been made from Israel,” referring to the Barak-8, which he said “provides the Indian Navy new and greater air-defense capabilities.”“The Barak-8 is a strong manifestation of the Israel-India defense partnership and it is a joint venture between our two nations,” Pandit said. “The Barak-8 has been fitted on three Indian Naval ships and is fully operational.”Bilateral trade and economic relations have progressed rapidly in the past two decades, with a significant increase in the past year.Defense trade between the two countries has averaged sales of more than $1 billion annually over the last five years, including the long-range surface- to-air missile, or Barak-8 naval air defense system, which was jointly developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries.Israel has supplied India with various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years, making India one of the largest buyers of Israeli military hardware.In April, IAI signed a $2b. contract to provide the Indian Army with advanced defense systems, the largest ever for Israel’s defense industry.