India to Get Missile Defence System Worth $2 Billion From Israel

Israel has signed a USD 2 billion contract with India to supply it with missile defence systems, the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries said on Friday.


Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi hug each other after reading their joint statement at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. (Image: Reuters)

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in an announcement said that it has been awarded its largest defence contract of almost USD 2 billion for supplying advanced medium-range surface-to-air missile systems (MRSAM) to India. IAI said it would also supply additional long-range air and missile defence systems (LRSAM) for the first locally produced Indian aircraft carrier.

The contract is worth USD 1.6 billion for IAI, with the rest going to another state-owned defence company Rafael, that will be providing components for the systems.

“The current contracts represent an enormous expression of confidence by the government of India in IAI’s capabilities and advanced technologies, which are being developed with our local partners as part of the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ policy,” IAI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Joseph Weiss said in a statement.

President Reuven Rivlin, who is said to have discussed the deal with Indian leaders during his trip to India early this year, called to congratulate Weiss on this “historic” deal terming it truly “exceptional”.

“Israel’s willingness to share technology and form joint ventures with Indian companies to develop and manufacture military equipment supporting the ‘Make in India’ initiative is said to have been well received in New Delhi.

The Missile System

  • In the case of MRSAM, an advanced air and missile defence system that provides protection against a variety of aerial threats, the technology is said to have been jointly developed by IAI and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation in collaboration with Rafael and IAI’s Elta division.
  • Jointly developed medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) system for the Indian Army to replace Russian-made air defense systems. The agreement to jointly develop the land version of MRSAM, which will have a range of up to 70 kilometers.
  • The land version of MRSAM would be an extension of the ongoing Air Force MRSAM project, which is expected to begin induction by 2017, three years behind schedule. The Army has an immediate need for one regiment (18 systems) of MRSAMs at a cost of $1.5 billion, but the total requirement for these systems is estimated to be more than $6 billion.
  • The Army mobile MRSAM systems will be jointly developed by India’s state-owned defense research agency, the Defence Research and Development Organization, and Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) of Israel. Both sides will develop subsystems although the details of that arrangement have yet to be finalized. The system will be produced by India’s state-owned Bharat Dynamics Ltd., in participation with domestic private sector companies Tata Power SED and Larsen & Toubro.
  • The Army wants to use the MRSAM to defend mechanized formations operating in the plains and desert regions of the country.

Background:

  • In 2008, an attempt to acquire MRSAMs from the global market failed because none of the bidders qualified under India’s transfer of technology requirements.
  • In 2009, India and Israel agreed to jointly make the air version of MRSAM, but it is still under development despite a planned delivery time of 2013-14 because of unspecified technical snags in the initial tests of the prototype, the MoD source said. First delivery is now expected by 2017.
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