India and Israel: Move closer with defense ties

Indian Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor arrived in Israel on Saturday (November 7) on a three day working visit where he is scheduled to hold talks with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and top military officials including IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz among others. The general was welcomed in a festive ceremony at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv.

The discussions are ‘part of regular ongoing exchanges‘ to strengthen bilateral defense ties. The Indian Army Chief will also attend a special ceremony in the Yad Vashem memorial, where he will lay flowers in memory of Holocaust victims.

The visit is also expected to allay fears that the inquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into controversial Barak missile deal may disrupt the robust defense ties between the two countries. Israel has become India’s No.1 supplier of arms and ammunition, overtaking Russia with of supplies constituting about 50 percent of Israel’s defense exports and about 30 percent of India’s defense imports.

Israel has supplied a range of defence products, including Barak missiles, assault rifles, night fighting devices, radar network, hi-tech electronic warfare systems and information technology related equipments.

The Indian Air Force last May received the first of the three Phalcon airborne early warning radar systems (AWACS) from Israel as part of a 1.1 billion USD deal in a big boost to its surveillance capabilities in the region.

The next delivery is expected in the first quarter of next year. As per recent reports, India is interested in working with Israel on submarine-launched cruise missiles, ballistic missile defense systems, laser-guided systems, satellites as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.

The visit comes just before the first anniversary of the Mumbai-terror attacks last on 26 November at multiple locations including Chabad House (A Chabad house is a centre for disseminating Orthodox Judaism by the Chabad movement), during which over 170 people were killed, including the Chabad emissary to Mumbai and his pregnant wife. After the attack, Israel and India have increasingly cooperated on security issues especially beefing up the security along Indian coastlines, from where the terrorists had infiltrated during the attacks.

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