India-Israel defense cooperation under PM Modi

Prime Minister Modi’s visit has accelerated the enthusiasm on the both sides.

Visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben-Gurion airport before his departure after an historic three day visit to Israel (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben-Gurion airport before his departure after an historic three day visit to Israel
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Israel visit is an important milestone in the modern journey of India-Israel partnership.
Prime Minister Modi said that he and Prime Minister Netanyahu “have agreed to do much more together to protect our strategic interests and also cooperate to fight against growing radicalization and terrorism including in cyber-space.”
The Israel Defense Forces is known for its advanced technologies, innovation in cyber warfare, intelligence, precision armaments, and electronics. The IDF is one of the most technologically advanced militaries in the world. Israeli drone technology can play an effective role in the surveillance of India’s Naxalites areas and to fight the red terror too.
India and Israel have signed and exchanged seven memoranda of understanding on cooperation in the areas of innovation, technology, water, agriculture and space science, and reaffirmed the importance of bilateral defense cooperation and the need to focus on the joint development of defense products, including the transfer of technology from Israel.
During Modi’s Israel visit, the first meeting of the India-Israel CEO forum was held. MoUs worth over $4.3 billion were signed between Indian and Israeli companies.
Some defense related deals are:
• Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies and Israel’s Elbit Security Systems signed an agreement for the expansion of the existing joint venture between Alpha-Elsec Defence and Aerospace Systems Pvt. Ltd.
• Dynamatic Technologies and Elcom Systems of India signed a MoU with Israel Aerospace Industries to develop Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
• Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd. and Israel Aerospace Industries signed a joint venture agreement to address a range of opportunities across air defense systems, radars, anti-ship missiles and command & control systems for the Indian MoD/Services.
• Mahindra Telephonics and Shachaf Engineering signed a MoU for design and manufacturing of strategic electronic systems for military use. And Mahindra Aerostructure and Cyclone, a subsidiary of Elbit Group, signed a MoU to build aerostructures for aircraft airframes.
• Israel Aerospace Industries and Wipro have entered an agreement to collaborate in manufacture of composite aerostructures in India including establishing a facility for this purpose.
Recent defense cooperation initiatives
India and Israel signed a “white shipping” agreement, in Jerusalem on June 12, related to data sharing on nonclassified merchant navy ships or cargo ships. The agreement was signed during the meeting of the Chief of Indian Navy Adm. Sunil Lanba with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.
A $2b. deal for the joint development of medium-range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) was signed on April 6, between Israel Aerospace Industries and India’s Defence Research and Development Organization. The Barak-8, also known as MR-SAM/LR-SAM, is designed to defend against any kind of airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missile, and UAVs as well as cruise missiles and combat jets. It is equipped with advanced phased-array radar, command and control, mobile launchers and missiles with advanced radio frequency seekers.
One month later, Israel Aerospace Industries signed a $630 million additional contract to supply the naval version of the Barak-8 aerial defense system for the INS Vikrant aircraft carrier, Visakhapatnam-class guided missile destroyers, Kolkata-class destroyers, Kamorta-class anti-submarine warfare corvettes and the future Project 17A class of stealth frigates. Bharat Electronics Limited was included as the main contractor for the project.
The Indian Air Force carried out its first successful tests of the Israeli-made SPYDER (Surface-to-air Python and Derby) missile system on May 11. The Python-5 and Derby constitute the SPYDER missile system which also features on-board radar for increased accuracy. The SPYDER missile system works on the “fire and forget” principle.
In February, the Integrated Underwater Harbor Defense and Surveillance System (IUHDSS) developed by ELTA Systems (a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries) was strategically installed around the Mumbai Naval Harbor to deal with asymmetric threats and to provide comprehensive, real-time situational awareness for monitoring and analysis. IUHDSS consists of integrated radars, electro-optic cameras and sonars.
The Indian government had cleared a deal for the procurement of 10 armed Heron TP UAVs worth $400m. from Israel Aerospace Industries in September 2015. The Heron TP is a medium-altitude, long endurance UAV with a range of around 7,400 kilometers and a maximum flight time of around 36 hours. Heron TP is crucial for tasks including intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance and long-range strategic strike missions. It is capable of carrying a payload of over 1,000 kilograms.
In 2014, the Indian government approved a $144m. deal for the purchase of 262 Israel-made Barak-1 surface-to-air missiles, and in the same year, the Defence Acquisition Council of India finalized its decision to buy 8,356 Israel-made Spike antitank guided missiles and 321 launchers at a cost of $525m.
Make in India and Make with India
The co-production and joint ventures are the other important dimensions of India-Israel defense cooperation. There is great enthusiasm on the both sides. Israel is ready for both Make in India and Make with India. These ventures are crucial to reduce dependency on state-owned entities and to create jobs in the private sector.
The first private sector small arms manufacturing plant has been set up in Madhya Pradesh, to produce equipment for both local use and export. It’s a joint venture between India’s Punj Lloyd and Israel’s IWI (Israel Weapon Industries Ltd.) to develop X95 carbine and assault rifles, Galil sniper rifles, Tavor assault rifles and Negev light machine guns etc. This initiative is in tune with the Make with India concept.
During Defexpo 2016, Reliance Defence inked a pact with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense System to set up a joint venture in India for specialized areas including air-to-air missiles, air defense systems and large aerostats that will oversee projects worth $10b. Reliance Defence is also planning to manufacture Kalashnikov class weapons and other small arms for Indian armed forces in a joint venture with Kalashnikov Israel (a subsidiary of the CAA Company of Israel). The Small Arms Act 2016 is a significant step to enabling private sector players.
Adani Group’s unit Aero Defence Systems & Technologies Ltd. has signed a statement of intent with Elbit-ISTAR of Israel and Indian company Alpha Design Technologies Pvt. Ltd. to work together in the field of unmanned aircraft systems.
Israel Aerospace Industries and India’s Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd. signed a MoU to incorporate a joint venture in India. IAI and KSSL aim to manufacture and market specific air defense systems and lightweight special purpose munitions. IAI’s Golan Industries Division signed a MoU with Taneja Aerospace & Aviation Ltd. of India to cooperate in the production, marketing and sale of civil and military aircraft crash-worthy seats. IAI signed another cooperation agreement with the Dynamatic Technologies Ltd. for the production, assembly and support of mini-UAVs in India.
Premier Explosives signed a MoU with IAI too. Headquartered in Hyderabad, Premier Explosives manufactures and supplies solid propellants for Indian missiles such as the Akash and Astra. The company also operates a modern chemical manufacturing facility of the Indian Space Research Organization at Sriharikota.
In February 2015, Kalyani Group and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems signed an agreement to develop and manufacture a wide range of missiles, remote weapon systems, and advanced armor solutions.
Hyderabad-based Astra Microwave Products Ltd. signed an agreement with Rafael to build tactical radio communication systems, electronic warfare systems and signal intelligence systems. Astra Microwave designs and manufactures subsystems for radio frequency and microwave system used in defense, space, meteorology and telecommunication.
Starting this year the Indian Air Force is going to participate in the Blue Flag military aviation exercise of the Israel Air Force. it is one of the biggest multinational aviation exercises in the West Asia. Israel will host air forces from seven countries. France, Germany, India and Italy will join previous participants Greece, Poland, and the US.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit has accelerated the enthusiasm on the both sides. The formula for the success of this partnership was expressed by Premier Benjamin Netanyahu: “It is I square T square that equals – Indian talent times Israeli technology. It equals Israel India’s ties for tomorrow.” Both countries have endorsed the vision to work cooperatively not only for mutual benefit but for the good of the rest of the world too.
Devsena Mishra promotes advanced technologies, start-up ecosystem and government’s business and technology related initiatives such as Digital India, Make in India and Start-up India through her portals, articles, videos and books.