The Indian Government is throttling ahead to make India a global power. Centric to this plan is the need for the modernization of its huge armed forces. India operates the second largest army, the fourth largest air force and the fifth largest navy in the world. India’s unstable neighbours have forced the country to enter into an arms race. India today is majestically sailing towards making its armed forces the most powerful military power in the Asia-Pacific region.
A nurturing force in India’s quest to outwit its neighbours is its closest ally Israel. The relationship between India and Israel has grown exponentially over the years. In diplomatic circles the Indo-Israeli relationships for years have been termed ‘Shadowy relations’. Successive regimes at New Delhi and Jerusalem have worked closely to contribute to this maturing bilateral relationship. Both the countries have now set-up full scale bilateral relationships. Ever since, the new government took charge at New Delhi, India has turned out to be a staunch supporter for Israel’s integrity in the Middle East.
There has been a slush of activity happening at New Delhi as PM Narendra Modi is gearing for his much anticipated visit to the Middle Eastern countries. Israel is believed to be on the top of the PM’s itinerary to the region. It is in this background that top defence officials at South Block are involved in relentless negotiations with their counter parts at Jerusalem. India and Israel are aiming to conclude several longstanding defence deals during the state visit of the PM.
India’s top defence acquisition body, Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by the Defence Minister has cleared several demands of the armed forces in the past months. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by the PM meeting yesterday has cleared projects worth INR 8,000 crore. India and Israel are expected to agree up on several defence deals worth more than $ 6 billion during Narendra Modi’s visit to Jerusalem.
IAF to acquire two more Phalcon AWACS aircraft.
The CCS has cleared the acquisition of ‘two Phalcon AWACS’ system from Israel. The deal is expected to cost India about INR 7,500 crore. The AWACS system is based on the Russian built Ilyusian IL-76 strategic lift aircraft. The eyes and ears of the Phalcon aircraft is the ‘EL/W-2090 AESA radar‘ jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elta of Israel. The radar has a tracking range of 400+ kilomteres against fighter aircraft sized targets and a detection range of 1200+ kilometers against ballistic missiles.
The Phalcon Airborne Warning And Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft are crucial to maintain the sanity of our airspace. These aircraft are the hawk eyes in the sky and can detect any aerial targets at long ranges. The first Phalcon AWACS was inducted to the air force in 2009. The Indian Air Force (IAF) currently operates three such aircraft under its command and these are based out of Agra airbase. The aircraft apart from being an early warning platform also acts as a command and control platform for the air force. India, Russia and Israel are expected to sign a trilateral agreement in this regard at the earliest.
Significant progress being made on Spike ATGM missiles.
The Indian Army had selected the Spike ATGM missile system manufactured by the Israeli based ‘Rafael Advanced Defense System’ to arm its 380 infantry battalions and 45 mechanized infantry units. Spike ATGM had outwitted the US backed Javelin ATGM systems. Rafael was awarded the tender in 2010 at a cost of US $ 1.1 billion.
However, little progress has been reported on fulfilling the tender. Indian and Israeli delegations have been at loggerheads for years. Successive Israeli delegations have been demanding that there be a significant increase in the cost outlaid for the program. However, India is reluctant and is demanding that the tender be fulfilled within the allotted INR 3,200 crore. It is now learnt that, India and Israel have ironed out their differences and a fortified deal maybe expected in the coming months.
In accordance with the tender, Rafael will supply the Indian Army with 321 Spike missile launchers and as many as 8,356 Spike ATGM missiles. India will in the beginning acquire the Spike systems off the shelf from Israel. Gradually, the missile system will be made in India by a local firm. Israel has agreed for a fully fledged Transfer of Technology (ToT) to an Indian based manufacturing firm. In this regard, Israel has floated a Joint Venture (JV) with Kalyani groups for indigenously manufacturing the Spike ATGM systems. Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) will be the lead integrator of the systems. Kalyani groups and Rafael will also jointly work for the Indian Army’s BMP-II vehicle modernization program.
The Spike Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) is a highly advanced missile system that is considered to be a third generation ATGM. The missile features a state-of-the-art active/passive guidance system that drastically boosts the accuracy of the missile system. Spike can penetrate through the toughest armours which are as far as 2.5 kilometres away.
Indian Air Force to acquire Spice stand-off Precision Bombs and Litening-4 target designation pods.
DAC has given its clearance for acquiring 250 Spice precision bombs. These stand-off bombs will arm the Sukhoi Su -30 MKI and Jaguar aircraft of the air force. The Spice-250 bombs are a version of the Mk-84 weaponry system. These bombs are fitted with an add-on ‘smart bomb’ guidance kit, which effectively convert them into precision guided air-to-surface missiles. These bombs are manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and have a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of less than 3 metres. These bombs are thus are crucial when an attack is launched in civilian clustered territory.
The Spice – 250 bombs will be supplemented by the ‘Litening-4’ target designation pods. These pods feature high resolution sensors which with the help of laser systems, can light up a particular target in a civilian clustered territory. Clubbing these target designation pods with the smart ‘Spice bombs’ can help reduce collateral damages to a great extent. India will initially acquire 164 ‘Litening-4’ pods for arming its frontline fighter – the Su – 30 MKI aircraft.
India and Israel to float a Joint Venture (JV) for MRSAM systems.
India and Israel in the past had agreed upon jointly working for developing a Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile for the Indian Army. The missile system was to be developed around the Barak-8 SAM system. DRDO, IAI and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems have now agreed to float and fortify a Joint Venture (JV) for manufacturing the MRSAM system. The JV so formed is valued at INR 10,000 crore, making it the largest JV formed by India to produce defence systems. The missile system will have a range of 70+ kilometres and will in the future guard Indian cities and important defence installations.
Israel to assist India in the development of Seeker technology.
The effectiveness of a missile system or a guided bomb is always dependent on the seeker technology used on it. It is these sensors that virtually track down a target. Indian firms have been struggling to master the complex technology involved in producing these systems. Israel has now agreed to help DRDO design the latest seeker systems.
Israeli firms will assist India in getting to the ‘know why’ phase of the production. The deal is expected to cost around INR 5,000 crores. India after mastering the seeker technology can indigenously produce smart bombs, missiles and high accuracy artillery shells. In the past, India’s closest allies America, France and Russia had declined to help India indigenously master this technology.
The Indo-Israeli relationship is on a all time high and several more crucial defence deals can be inked during Modi’s much anticipated visit to Israel.