Israel Secures Huge Missile Contracts in India

 - April 14, 2017, 1:00 PM
A Barak-8 launcher on display at the Paris Air Show in June 2015 (Photo: AIN). Inset: a trial firing of an LRSAM in September last year. (Photo: IAI)

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a “mega-contract” worth $1.6 billion with India for medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) systems. The deal is the largest-ever export deal secured by the Israeli defense industry, according to the company. After a joint development with IAI’s own Elta division plus Rafael and the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that started in 2009, IAI will supply phased-array radars, command and control, mobile launchers and missiles with active radar seekers to the Indian Army. The MRSAM system is known in Israel as the Barak-8 and was displayed at the Paris Air Show in June 2015.

Israel and India have been cooperating on SAM systems since IAI and Rafael supplied the short-range vertical-launch Barak 1 for the protection of Indian warships beginning in 2000. The deal was controversial because of corruption allegations, but an official Indian government probe found no evidence to support the allegations. In late 2005, New Delhi sanctioned development with Israel of a long-range SAM (LRSAM) to protect Indian warships, and this missile was test-fired from Israeli and Indian warships in late 2015 before entering service with the Indian Navy late last year.

In its latest statement, IAI said that it would supply additional LRSAM systems apparently worth some $400 million for India’s home-built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant. The LRSAM is known as Barak-8ER (Extended-Range) in Israel, and is reported to have a range of 90 miles. The MRSAM or Barak-8 has a reported range of 40 miles, although Indian media have reported a test-firing to a range of 60 miles, and the main $1.6 billion contract may deliver missiles to the Indian Army with that range.

Joseph Weiss, IAI’s president and chief executive officer, said: "We are proud to be leading this flagship project after a long and joint development process. 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.” In addition to the DRDO, IAI is working with state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) plus Larsen and Toubro and other private Indian vendors.

The new Indo-Israeli MRSAMs are replacing old Russian SAMs. But India has also been negotiating with Russia for the advanced, long-range S-400 SAM system and has beendeveloping an indigenous short-range SAM named the Akash.