India has signed a $777 million missile defense deal with Israel, Indian newspapers report. State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries  (IAI) will supply Long-Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (LR-SAM) for the Indian Navy.

The deal is another milestone in Israel-India defense cooperation. Barak 8, as the missile defense system is known, is a joint venture of IAI and India’s defense research agency DRDO. Bangalore-based company Bharat Electronics (BEL) will manufacture key components for the project, Israeli business daily Globes reported. Earlier this year, Barak 8 was successfully tested aboard an Indian navy ship, Indian media reports said.

The procurement contract is part of India’s push to boost its naval defense capabilities with the help of Israeli know-how. In April 2017, IAI signed a $2 billion deal to supply a missile defense system to the Indian army and navy. That deal was followed by an additional $630 million contract for a surface-to-air missile system for the Indian navy. IAI has also teamed up with India’s DRDO to build unmanned helicopters, or rotary UAVs, for naval surveillance and reconnaissance operations.

Indian business newspaper Economic Times reported the details of the defense deal:

India has awarded an additional USD 777 million deal to a leading Israeli defence firm for supplying Barak 8 LR-SAM Air and Missile Defence Systems to seven ships of the Indian Navy, the company announced Wednesday.

The Long-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LR-SAM) system is an operational Air and Missile Defence (AMD) system used by Israel’s navy as well as by India’s navy, air and land forces. […]

Designed to defend against a variety of short-to-long-range airborne threats including fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, drones and projectiles, Barak-8 incorporates a state-of-the-art phased array multi-mission radar, two-way data link, and a flexible command and control system, enabling users to simultaneously engage multiple targets day and night and in all weather conditions.

The missile system has been jointly developed by IAI, India’s DRDO, Israel’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, Elta Systems, Rafael and some other Indian defence companies.

India’s massive investment in ramping up its maritime defenses is directly connected to the threat posed by China’s “String of Pearls” strategy unfolding in the Indian ocean. The Chinese civil-military initiatives aims to build ports and naval bases extending from Southern China to East Africa. India is particularly alarmed by Chinese naval facilities coming up in neighboring Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Chinese naval base being built at Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea overlooks India’s commercially vital Western ports, enhancing China’s ability to enforce a naval embargo in case of a military conflict.

In recent years, Chinese warships and nuclear submarines have conducted “combat patrols” off the coast of India. Acquiring and developing state-of-the-art naval defense capabilities are crucial for protecting India’s coastal refineries and offshore drilling installations against foreign aggression.

Joint development of cutting-edge defense technologies with Israel helps New Delhi enhance its own indigenous military capabilities. Beside the United States and Russia, Israel is among the biggest defense suppliers to India.

Israel-India relations have come a long way since diplomatic ties were formally established almost 25 years ago. Bilateral trade between the two countries has gone from the base figure of less than $200 million in early 1990s to more than $4 billion in recent years. Today, both countries are cooperating in varied areas ranging from water conservation to space exploration and from rural healthcare to start ups.


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