Elbit and IAI to bid in $100m Indian Air Force tender

The tender is likely to test the memorandum signed by Israel and the US on arms sales to sensitive countries.

Elbit Systems (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) will be invited to bid in a huge international tender for setting up a command and control system for the Indian Air Force. “Defense News” reports in its latest issue that the system is an ambitious attempt to imitate NATO’s command and control network. The tender is for more than $100 million.

The Indian Air Force plans to publish the tender in September. The company chosen will have to help integrate the Indian Air Force’s current system in the new system. These existing systems include air defense, control, surveillance systems, a warplane mission management system, and an airspace management system.

Bids and technical specifications must be submitted within three months of the publication of the tender. The Indian Air Force will examine the bids for 4-6 months, and draw up a short list of candidates, from which the winner will be selected. Signing of the contract with the winner is scheduled within a year after the short list is published. The winning company will have to build a prototype of the system two years after the contract is signed.

The tender is likely to serve as a test case for the memorandum signed by Israel and the US on sales of weapons and military systems to sensitive countries. In effect, the document gives the US a veto on Israel’s exports of weapons and technology to countries that the US believes constitute a threat to its security, or the security of a given region.

Even though the US administration is mainly concerned about exports of advanced technology to China, senior Israeli defense industry figures warned that the memorandum would strangle Israeli defense exports to Israel’s most profitable markets in Asia, including India.

Observers note that the Bush administration recently agreed on nuclear energy cooperation for peaceful uses with India, which will make it difficult for Washington to demand that Israel sever itself from the Indian defense market.

Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on August 24, 2005

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