India looks to strengthen navy by procuring air-defence system from Israel

Sriparna Ghosh
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is soon expected to seal several defence deals with Israel, including the mega procurement an air-defence system for the Indian Navy. The deals will be finalised during Modi's upcoming visit to Israel. He will also be the first Indian PM to visit the Jewish nation.

India, Israel to explore joint defence equipment manufacturing, R&D

Calling Modi's upcoming visit as a "big" one, Israeli Ambassador to India Daniel Carmon highlighted the depth of cooperation between the two countries in several key areas. The air defence system is also expected to strengthen India's position in the seas at a time when China is jockeying for maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean and surrounding areas.

In March, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his concern over his country's inability to stop China's actions in the contested waters of South China Sea. Beijing has planned to construct an environmental-monitoring station in a shoal off northwestern Philippine, said an Associated Press report.

Moreover, China's People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N) has expanded its horizon from its own shores to India's "own strategic backyard" in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) where it had docked its submarine. There have been many incidents Chinese warships have been witnessed in the IOR.

In 2016, China had also reportedly sent surface-to-air missile launchers to one of the disputed islands in South China Sea— Woody Island in Paracel Islands chain.

During the visit that is scheduled in July, the deal of the Barak-8 air defence missile systems for the navy and the procurement of Spike anti-tank missiles for the Indian Army will be finalised.

The visit will also mark the completion of 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. "India, Israel relations are big enough. The visit, when it takes place, will be a very very important visit. It will be one of the most important visits that Israel has witnessed in many many years," Carmon told PTI.

Besides discussing various deals, the envoy also added that the relationship between the two countries is no longer focusing on arms and ammunition alone, but also looking forward to conducting a joint research and development. "Israel has very good relations with India and the relationship has various facets including defence," Camron added.

India has been one of the largest buyers of Israel's military hardware and the current procurements are going to further strengthen its stance in the defence sphere.

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