India’s Chief of Staff Gen. Manoj Mukund Naravane has arrived in Israel to meet on Sunday with senior military personnel in order to enhance defense ties between the two countries.
This marks Naravene’s first visit to Israel since he began his term as India’s top military officer in 2019. He will meet with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi and visit the IDF’s Ground Forces Headquarters.
“The Army Chief will take forward the excellent bilateral defense cooperation between Israel and India through multiple meetings with senior officials of the security establishment and exchange views on various defense-related issues,” read a statement released by the Indian military.
Naravane’s visit comes following a visit two weeks ago by the director-general of the Indian ministry of defense, Ajay Kumar to Israel.
Kumar met with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Ministry Director-General Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel at the Kirya Military Headquarters in Tel Aviv for the 15th meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on defense cooperation.
During Kumar’s visit, the two countries agreed to form a task force that will build a 10-year plan to identify new areas in defense cooperation. The plan will include defense procurement, production, and research and development.
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.
A 2020 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that Israel’s arms exports over the past four years have been the highest ever, accounting for three percent of the global total.
According to the report, the top three customers of Israeli arms were India (45%), Azerbaijan (17%), and Vietnam (8.5%). Weapons sales to India have consistently totaled over $1 billion per year.
Last week, Jerusalem and New Delhi signed an agreement to develop bilateral technology such as drones, artificial intelligence and more.
The Bilateral Innovation Agreement (BIA) was signed by the chairman of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), G. Satheesh Reddy and the head of Israel's Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), Danny Gold.
"Under the agreement, startups and industry of both countries will work together to bring out next-generation technologies and products in the areas such as drones, robotics, artificial intelligence, quantum technology, photonics, biosensing, brain-machine interface, energy storage, wearable devices, natural language processing, etc," India’s defense ministry said in a statement.
The developments will be jointly funded by both the DRDO and DDR&D and will be customized to “meet the unique requirements” of both countries and be available to Israel and India.