India and Israel are concluding large arms deals valued at about $600 million, signaling a new era in security ties between the two countries. In recent years, relations between the nations have been strained by suspicions of corruption and bribes by Israeli firms to senior Indian officials, including the former Indian defense minister.
The newspaper India Express reported Tuesday (1/20) that the Indian Navy is about to purchase two Israeli-made aerial balloon radar systems. The transaction, which is close to completion, will enable India to improve the defense of its coastlines.
The purchase is being implemented in the shadow of the most recent terror attack in Mumbai, which was carried out by Pakistani Muslim extremists arriving by sea.
The two radar systems are manufactured by ELTA systems, a division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and are already in use by the Indian Air Force.
Each system costs $20 million to $30 million. The devices are placed on hot-air balloons that are tied to the ground, and they cover an area of up to 500 kilometers. Three such devices can cover the entire west coast of India.
The newspaper also reported that the Indian government has canceled the postponement it had imposed on conducting negotiations with Israel for the purchase of Barak missile systems. The delay came in the footsteps of an investigation begun by the Indian government's investigation service, on suspicion that Israeli firms, including Rafael (Israel Military Industries) and the IAI were involved in the payment of bribes in a missile deal in the late 1990s.
The investigation focused on an agent of these industries in India, who was interrogated and arrested. The agent was suspected bribing then-defense minister George Fernandes, the commander of the navy and other top officials.
The investigation is still ongoing, but the Indian government has decided to accelerate the previously frozen negotiations for the purchase of 300 Barak missiles for installation on ships.
The value of this transaction is estimated at $300 million and is a joint transaction of Rafael, which produces the missile, The IAI's Mabat, which produces the scanner and integration systems and ELTA.
The Indian government had also approved a transaction of about a quarter of a million dollars for the purchase of Rafael's Spider air-to-air missiles and an ELTA radar system. (india-defence.com)