India’s Modi approves NIS 9.4 billion missile deal with Israel
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India’s Modi approves NIS 9.4 billion missile deal with Israel

In latest sign of growing Israeli-Indian defense cooperation, Barak 8 system set to be deployed by 2023

Israel Aerospace Industries' Barak 8 surface to air missile in a test launch outside Kolkata, India. (YouTube screenshot)
Israel Aerospace Industries' Barak 8 surface to air missile in a test launch outside Kolkata, India. (YouTube screenshot)

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved on Wednesday a NIS 9.4 billion ($2.5 billion) purchase of an Israeli-developed anti-aircraft missile system for the Indian Army.

The Indian security cabinet committee on security approved the procurement of 40 units of the Medium Range Surface to Air Defense Missile (MR-SAM) system, known in Israel as the Barak 8, the Mail Today paper reported, citing government sources in New Delhi.

The system is under joint development of Israel Aerospace Industries and the Defence Research and Development Organisation, India’s primary state military research and development agency.

According to the Mail Today report, “the system can shoot down enemy aircraft, drones, surveillance aircraft and AWACS planes at the strike range between 50 km to 70 km in the sky and will help the country in filling gaps in air defense.”

Delivery of the first unit for deployment in the field is expected in 2023.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, during the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris on November 30, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, during the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris on November 30, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The report noted that part of the project’s development is taking place in India, including cooperation in developing the homing system.

Additional joint Indian-Israeli missile programs are underway, according to the report, including the Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM) system, which will be deployed on Indian Navy warships.

Israel has sought to tighten defense ties with New Delhi in recent years, especially in the fields of air and missile defense.

On Monday, the director of Israel’s Defense Export Controls Agency, a branch of the Defense Ministry, told Knesset lawmakers that Israel planned to relax its regulations on the exports of arms and defense products, amid a reform program for the industry.

In a session with the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the agency’s director outlined key concessions to be offered to defense exporters and emphasized that stiffer penalties would be levied on those who violate the new regulations.

According to a report in business daily Globes, the relaxed regulations include “extending exporters’ exemption from the requirement for marketing licenses for exports of weapons systems to 98 countries around the world, permission for exporting an item for [demonstration purposes] or display at a defense exhibition without obtaining an export license, and an exemption from a marketing license for a product categorized as non-classified (so that it can be marketed through an intermediary party from one of the 98 countries on the list of license-exempt countries)” and an expansion of the agency’s online services for exporters, with the aim of shortening waiting times.

Alongside the concessions, the stronger penalties would include sanctions, fines and restrictions on companies and executives found to have violated the Defense Export Control Law.

In December 2016, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which monitors the arms industry worldwide, released statistics that showed Israel’s major arms manufacturers benefiting from a sales increase of some 10 percent, amid a global slump.

According to the report, Israel was listed as the seventh largest arms seller in the world, with its major manufacturers accounting for 2.1% of global sales. The US came in at number one, then Britain, Russia and France.

Israel’s Elbit Systems was, according to the data cited, the world’s 29th largest arms seller, with $2.95 billion in sales, while Israel Aerospace Industries, with $2.78 billion in sales, was 32nd on the list. Rafael came in at number 43 with sales totaling $1.98 billion. The majority of the sales of all the companies were of weapons and weapons systems.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported this week that worldwide arms trade has risen to its highest level since the Cold War in the last five years, driven by a demand from the Middle East and Asia.

AFP contributed to this report.

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