The Israeli security cabinet approved on Sunday the sale of three advanced Phalcon spy planes to India. The transaction is valued at $1.1 billion, Israel Radio reported.
According to local media, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon finalized the details of the purchase agreement during a visit to India in September. Sharon’s four-day stay was the first ever visit by an Israeli premier to the country since both states established diplomatic relations in 1992.
India and Israel were close to sealing the deal last year, as part of a defense accord between the two countries, when Washington stepped in. Voicing opposition to the transaction, the Bush administration informed Israeli officials that it would withhold a one-billion-dollar special military grant for the Jewish state should the Phalcon deal with India materialize. New Delhi papers linked American opposition to the Indian stand on the Iraq war.
However, The Times of India reported in January that the White House had changed its stance on the matter as US officials told their Indian counterparts that they no longer opposed the transaction.
Israel and India have long established tight cooperation between their defense industries. According to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Jewish state is reported to have already furnished India with the Greenpine radar and a Harpy unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Ranked as an arms export heavyweight, Israel is forecasted to remain one of the world’s top five defense exporters for 2003. The state was ranked third for 2002 by Defense News in June. The United States and Russia held the top two positions. — (menareport.com)
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