India inks around $2-billion arms deal with Israel
Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) signed overnight an estimated two billion dollar weapons contract with India' defense ministry, Israel's Haaretz daily reported Tuesday, July 17.
IAI, which works in cooperation with Israel's defense ministry, will deliver to India aircraft, radar systems and surface-to-surface missiles, via India's largest defense contractor, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), Haaretz said.
Three Phalcon early-warning aircraft, of the type, which Israel was prevented from supplying to China by strong US objections, will be among them. IAI will also deliver surface-to-surface naval Barak missiles, worth $280 million, pilot-less planes valued at $300 million, and Green Pine radar systems, estimated at $250 million, Haaretz said.
The radar is used in the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system deployed in Israel, after being developed in collaboration with the United States. In addition, IAI will develop a Super Barak missile for India, which will have twice the capability of the original Barak surface-to-surface missiles. The contract was signed at IAI headquarters in Lod, near Tel Aviv.
Haaretz added that potential deals with HAL include the upgrading of Russian-built Indian warplanes ― MiG-21s, MiG-29s and Sukhois ― as well as Mil-8s and Mil-17 helicopters and T-72 tanks.
The Israeli defense contractor, Soltham, has also been commissioned to design a towed howitzer for the Indian army.
The defense deal comes after last week's controversial Maariv newspaper report that Indian UN troops were paid off by the Lebanese Shiite Hizbullah group to allow the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers in a disputed border area nine months ago.
Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer moved swiftly to mend fences, saying last Saturday "No one is accusing India."
Israel and India only restored diplomatic ties in 1992 after a 40-year break but have since forged a solid military partnership that the Arab world insists is centered on nuclear weapons cooperation ― a charge vigorously denied by New Delhi.
India's defense ministry already has a $270-million deal to outfit its navy with Israeli shipboard missiles, while Israel has expressed interest in buying Indian-made Lakshya drone aircraft. ― (AFP, Jerusalem)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)