MoD procurement chief talks up defence cooperation with Israel - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 6 February 2020

MoD procurement chief talks up defence cooperation with Israel

 By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 6th Feb 20

In an unusual endorsement that illustrates Israel’s value as India’s third-largest defence supplier after Russia and the United States, the defence ministry’s (MoD’s) weapons procurement chief, Apurva Chandra, publicly stated that Israel is the key contributor to India’s readiness to face military challenges.

Chandra, who holds the post of Director General (Acquisitions) in the MoD also acknowledged that Israel has been always forthcoming in sharing high-end military technologies with India.

He was speaking at a seminar on India-Israel defence cooperation at Defexpo 2020 in Lucknow on Wednesday.

Chandra hoped that India’s defence partnership with Israel would continue to grow, stating that all the contracts the MoD has entered into with Israel were concluded on time. The overall experience with Israel has been “highly satisfying,” he stated.

Chandra listed out unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), border management, after-sales support and maintenance and repair of equipment as the new focus areas of India-Israel defence cooperation.

However, Chandra did not recount how Israel has become such an indispensable defence partner.

Since Israel does not build and sell major defence platforms such as aircraft or ships, its high-tech defence companies – many of them privately owned – focus on the lucrative Indian market for upgrading India’s predominantly Russian platforms. Israel retro-fitted its cutting edge avionics into the Russian Sukhoi-30 fighter, enhancing its capabilities and configuring it into the purpose-designed Sukhoi-30MKI.

Over the years, Israel has upgraded India’s MiG-21 fighters; ship-borne missiles and T-72 tanks. Having accumulated this experience at India’s cost, Israeli firms can theoretically upgrade some 30,000 T-72 tanks in service worldwide.

Similarly, Israeli industry worked with Russian equipment to build India’s Phalcon Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) – an airborne radar mounted on a Russian IL-76 aircraft. India paid about US $1.1 billion to Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elta for this.

In recent years, Israeli defence firms have entered into co-development projects with India’s Defence R&D Organisation to build advanced systems such as the eponymous Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM) that protects Indian warships.

And Israeli firms are increasingly entering into joint ventures with Indian defence companies to provide an indigenous screen for what remains heavily Israeli equipment. 

Underlining the continuing belief on India-Israel cooperation, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Israeli firm, Elbit Systems, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Wednesday for joint development of a UAV.

HAL and Elbit are assessing the possibility to jointly developing, manufacturing and maintaining a “vertical takeoff and landing” (VTOL) helicopter-style UAV that can operate on land and at sea. They intend to address the entire global market with this 2,000-kg class “rotary wing UAV”

“The proposed VTOL UAVs have a tremendous potential in carrying out maritime military missions with higher efficiency compared to a manned helicopter. Deploying a VTOL UAV will bring down the huge costs associated with inducting operating and maintaining manned helicopters on the (ship’s) deck,” HAL stated after the signing.

Deploying VTOL UAVs for routine surveillance missions in unsafe areas would also benefit the armed forces by avoiding casualties and increasing endurance. In the absence of a VTOL UAV, manned helicopters would be needed for such missions, both during day and night.

HAL and Elbit signed a second MoU on Wednesday to cooperate in promoting and marketing digital Head Up Displays (HUD) to global customers.

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