India’s Israel arm(s)

Feb 11 2013, 22:15 IST
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SummaryIsraelis have slowly become a major arms supplier to India -- $10bn since 1997.

Even as Russia and the US are engaged in a 'cold war' to grab a larger share of the Indian defence pie, Israelis have gradually and silently occupied one of the three top slots of defence suppliers to India.

India is Israel's largest purchaser of arms and equipment, with Israeli total defence equipment exports to India reaching $10 billion since 1997.

Both sides keep exact figures on defence sales a secret.

Calling India an "intimate partner" in its aim to protect and defend its citizens, Israeli ambassador to India Alon Ushpiz has offered its latest Iron Dome missile defence technology which recently thwarted a massive rocket attack on half of its population.

In early December, however, an Israeli delegation is understood to have held extensive talks with the Indian defence ministry and offered the David’s Sling than in the Iron Dome, which is an air defence missile in the short-range -- 250 km class.

Sixty percent of India's arms purchases still come from Russia but it has begun to look further afield in recent years as it seeks to match its growing economic might with military power, and warily eyes its giant neighbour China. The rising cost of spare parts for Russian equipment soaring over 300 percent has increased Israel's market presence. Some analysts predict that Israel could soon overtake Russia as India's primary defence supplier. India has had an expansive defence partnership with Russia, with the latter notching up military sales well over $35 billion since the 1960s, leading to over 60% of equipment held by Indian armed forces being of Russian-origin. Ongoing bilateral defence projects are worth another $15 billion or so. IAF, for instance, is progressively inducting 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs at a cost of around $12 billion from Russia.

Major bilateral areas of cooperation with Israel include submarine-launched cruise missiles, micro-satellite systems for surveillance, laser-guided systems and precision-guided munitions, anti-ballistic missile systems, radar systems and the upgrading of Soviet and Russian supplied weapons systems, including aircraft, artillery and tanks.

Notably, one area in which the use of Israeli supplied military systems has had a significant effect is along India's 2,912-mile border with Pakistan, where state-of-the-art Israeli advanced sensor systems have slashed infiltration levels across the frontier.

Such successes have been a significant factor in increasing India's armaments purchases from Israel.

Secondly, Israeli armaments companies don't insist on either economic or politically strict conditions but are relatively liberal on issue of technology transfer.

Another contributing factor is that Israeli

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