Israeli defense companies show wares at Indian air show

Defense expo comes amid concerns that US will break into Indian market.

IAF launcher 298.88 (photo credit: IDF)
IAF launcher 298.88
(photo credit: IDF)
Amid concerns that the United States will break into the Indian defense market and steal away Israeli deals, 11 local defense companies opened the doors to the Israeli Pavilion on Wednesday at the prestigious Aero India defense expo. Held at an air force base in Bangalore, the biannual Aero India defense expo is considered one of the most important for manufacturers of aerial-based technologies. Israeli companies presenting their wares at the expo included Elbit Systems, Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), Israel Military Industries (IMI) and Rafael - Israel Armament Development Authority. Defense officials said that the expo was of extreme importance for Israeli defense companies, in light of the fact that India was Israel's biggest defense consumer. In 2006, India signed $1.5 billion worth of deals with Israeli defense firms. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Ben-Hanan, head of the Foreign Defense Assistance and Defense Export Department, was in charge of the Israeli pavilion. The defense expo in India comes at a sensitive time for Israeli companies, which are concerned that the US - which is in the process of upgrading its ties with India - will steal away a large portion of their defense business in India. During the expo, IAI Chairman Yair Shamir said that his company would view favorably any effort to create new defense cooperation between Israel and India. The Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG stole the show at the defense expo on Wednesday after it unveiled the newest MiG-35 fighter jet. India is currently in the midst of talks over the purchase of 156 multi-role combat aircraft and, in addition to the new MiG, is also considering the US-made F-16 as well as the Eurofighter. The main Israeli-made systems on display included survivability and protection systems; self-protection suites for fighters; virtual cockpits; laser warning systems; data links for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV); and precision-guided weapons. IAI is displaying several new systems at the expo, including the I-View Mk 50, the smallest in the company's I-View family of tactical UAVs. The system, designed for operational simplicity and low radar signature, provides real-time intelligence to commanders in the field. The UAV has an endurance of five to six hours and can be used for close-range surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition and artillery adjustment missions. Elbit Systems, which has also set up a stall at the expo, announced Wednesday that its subsidiary Ortek Ltd. had been selected to supply surveillance vehicles for the Ukraine Border Security Project, in a first-phase contact valued at over $4m. The vehicles will include a command and control station, monitoring sensors, and additional security measures, allowing operation even in severe weather conditions. The vehicles can accommodate three operators simultaneously.