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From UAVs to refuellers: How Israel is helping India keep an eye on LAC

  • Published
    18th Nov, 2022
Context

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is working closely with the Indian Army and Indian Air Force to tailor solutions for their defense needs.

About

India and Israel Relations:

  • Though India officially recognized Israel in 1950, the two countries established full diplomatic ties only on 29th January 1992.
  • As of December 2020, India was among 164 United Nations (UN) member states to have diplomatic ties with Israel.

India-Israel defense Cooperation

  • The strategic cooperation between the two countries began during the Sino-India War of 1962.
  • In 1965, Israel supplied M-58 160-mm mortar ammunition to India in the war against Pakistan.
  • The defense cooperation & relationship between India & Israel has evolved over time – from being an importer of Israeli tech and equipment, Indian companies are now collaborating with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on a variety of ventures.
  • India is the largest buyer of military equipment from Israel, which, in turn, is the second-largest defense supplier to India, after Russia.
  • At the 15th Joint Working Group (JWG 2021) meeting on Bilateral Defence Cooperation, countries agreed to form a Task Force to formulate a comprehensive Ten-Year Roadmap to identify new areas of cooperation.
    • The JWG is the apex body of the defense ministries of both countries meant to “comprehensively review and guide all aspects of Bilateral Defence Cooperation.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs):

  • Heron MK II:
    • Induction of Heron MK II, a state-of-the-art UAV that can fly at a height of 35,000 feet, covers a radius of 1000 km, see through dense clouds, work in bad weather and fly for 45 hours.
    • It’s learned that MK IIs are being deployed in Leh.
    • MK II can also be used for search and rescue operations.
  • Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Heron TPs:
    • Last year, the Indian Army had also taken on lease Heron TPs, a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for all-weather missions, from IAI.
    • Heron TP drones are one of the two drones made in Israel that can be armed if needed.

Aircraft:

  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has signed a memorandum of understanding with IAI to convert civil passenger aircraft into a multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT) for air refueling with cargo and transport capabilities.
    • The MoU also covers the conversion of passenger planes into freighter aircraft.
  • Upgradation of MiG 21s: Israel has been upgrading India’s aircraft systems such as MiG 21s;
  • LCA & ALH: Israel is also cooperating with developing Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) with Indian aeronautic giants.

Missiles & ammunition:

  • New Delhi is also sourcing Firefly loitering ammunition, Spike anti-tank guided missiles, and Spice guidance kits from Tel Aviv.
  • BARAK 8:
    • Israel Aerospace Industries and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have codeveloped a medium-range surface-to-air-missile (MRSAM), named as BARAK 8 Air defense system.

UAVs manufacturing in India:

  • After Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Israel in 2017, the IAI signed an agreement with Elcom Systems and Dynamatic Technologies for the manufacture of UAVs in India.
  • The IAI and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have signed a joint venture whereby IAI will not only offer UAVs to India but also help HAL in manufacturing them in India.

Significance of India-Israel Defence Cooperation:

  • Patrolling and Surveillance: The Israeli imports ease the operational ability of armed forces in wartime.
    • For instance, the missile defense systems, and ammunition played a crucial role in controlling the escalation between India and Pakistan post-Balakot air strikes.
  • Make in India: The export-oriented Israeli defense industry and its openness to establishing joint ventures complement both ‘Make in India’ and ‘Make with India’ in defense.
  • Trusted Supplier: Israel has always been a ‘no-questions-asked supplier’, i.e., it transfers even its most advanced technology without placing limits on its use. Its credibility was reinforced during the Kargil War of 1999.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) engagement:

  • IAI is accompanying Indian troops on their battle readiness exercises.
  • Since the Galwan incident of 2020, IAI keeping a close watch on the Sino-Indian boundary.
  • IAI is working closely with the Indian Army and Indian Air Force to tailor solutions for their defense needs.

China's Border Disputes:

  • China has a 22,100-kilometer land border with 14 countries.
  • It has resolved the boundary disputes with 12 neighbors.
    • India and Bhutan are the two countries with which China is yet to finalize the border agreements.
  • China and Bhutan signed an MOU firming up a three-step roadmap for expediting the boundary negotiations.
  • India-China border disputes cover 3,488km along the Line of Actual Control, China-Bhutan dispute covers about 400 km.

 

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