Secret Israel-India defence deal on the anvil, Indian Airforce
Secret Israel-India defence deal on the anvil
(Report by V.K. Shashikumar of Tehelka.com 6/8/2001)


New Delhi, August 6: Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi is now in Israel to discuss four broad areas of defence cooperation - avionics, Arrow Anti-Ballistic Missile System, Green Pine Radar system and airborne early warning Phalcon system.

India has launched a deep, in seriously underplayed, defence relationship with Israel in its ongoing bid to beef up its military muscle. The focus is on high-end, high-technology weapons systems. This synergy between Indian military requirements and the Israeli facility at weapons development has added the necessary impetus to Indo-Israeli cooperation.

The spokesperson of Israel's ministry of defence, Shlomo Dror, told tehelka.com, "The Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Vijay Oberoi, is now on a visit to Israel and will discuss with his Israeli counterparts four broad areas of interest to Indian defence services - avionics, Arrow Anti-Ballistic Missile system, Green Pine radar system and the airborne early warning Phalcon system."

In a telephonic interview, Dror revealed that General Oberoi would also be taking a keen interest in "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (AEV), in which Israel is a world leader". Reports suggest that the Israelis had supplied UAVs to India during the Kargil conflict. According to sources, the man behind India' s effort to make defence production indigenous, Abdul Kalam, now scientific advisor to the prime minister, had secretly visited Israel in June 1996. In fact, India's homeboy UAV, Nishant, might have some transferred Israeli technology in it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the next 10 years, Israeli tanks, which are the best in the world, will be offered to India

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dror calls the Israeli-Indian cooperation in UAVs "really interesting". India has a need, now more than ever, for state-of-the-art UAVs to gather realtime intelligence along and across the borders and to plan tactical operations. The Israelis have the best UAVs in the world. "We even supply the US defence forces with UAVs, not to speak of European and other countries," said Dror. India might be interested in the Eagle, the cutting-edge UAV manufactured by the Israelis.

In the next two or three years, the thrust areas in Indo-Israel defence cooperation will be:

1. UAVs

2. Air-to-Air Missiles. India is particularly interested in the Python 4 and Derby, rated as the best missiles in this category in the world

3. Anti-tank missile called Spike

4. Barak Missile System 5. Arrow anti-ballistic missile system

6. Green Pine Radar system. Israel is the technology leader in Arrow and Green Pine. However, Arrow has been developed with American collaboration

7. Tank upgrade, especially the T-72 tanks that India possesses

8. Aircraft and helicopter upgrades. The Israelis again are better than the Russians in upgrading Russian-built equipment.

"We have a world renowned competence in upgrades because we understand Eastern (Russian) platforms well and have the capability to put Western electronics in it," says Dror.

Perhaps, the secret flight and landing of a MiG-29 sometime in 1997 in the "technical area" of Ben Gurion airport had something to do with "knowing Eastern platforms well and putting Western avionics in it".

"The Israeli expertise in this area is easily demonstrated by the Lavy, which is essentially an F-15 with advanced avionics," says Dror. "By doing the upgrades, we get better aircraft in less money." He says in the next 10 years, Israeli tanks, which are the best in the world, will be offered to India. "At the moment, the entire production is being absorbed by the Israeli defence forces," he says.