"Defense News": India asks Israel for technical assistance to develop SLBM

Indian official: Extending the range of the Sagarika submarine-launched ballistic missile to 2,500 kilomters.is intended to give it nuclear deterrent capability.

''Defense News'' reports that India has given the go-ahead to its Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to speed up development of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). India has asked Israel for "technical assistance" on the development work. Russia also wants to provide "aid".

The missile program is called "Sagarika". Defense News'' quotes top DRDO scientists as saying that they have received permission to extend the missile's range from the originally planned 1,000 kilometers to 2,500 kilometers. The Sagarika currently has a range of only 300 kilometers. A top Indian scientist said extending the Sagarika's range was intended to give it nuclear deterrent capability.

A senior Israel Ministry of Defense official told "Defense News'' that Israel was in talks with the DRDO on the latter's critical programs, including missiles.

Under the accelerated Sagarika development program, the DRDO will utilize Israeli and Russian assistance to carry out a test launch within two years. In June, the DRDO hopes to test fire the Sagarika from a land site, using a guidance system upgraded with the help of Russian scientists from NPOM - Russia’s state-supported cruise missile and space technology design bureau - based at the DRDO.

A senior NPOM official said although Russian scientist had provided critical hardware for the guidance system, they had any no connection with developing the Sagarika as a nuclear deterrent.

At a press conference on February 11, DRDO scientific adviser M Natarajan denied that the Sagarika program existed. However, two days earlier, India's Minister of Defence Pranab Mukherjee said there were delays in the missile's development.

In separate matter, a senior Indian Ministry of Defence official said two Israeli companies would participate in upgrading 15 Indian Navy Sea Harrier vertical take-off and landing jets, stationed on the INS Viraat aircraft carrier. "Globes" reported on February 8 that Rafael (Israel Armament Development Authority Ltd.) had won a $25 million tender to provide 20 Derby missiles for Indian Navy jets. It has now been learned that IAI-Elta Electronics Industries will provide the upgraded Sea Harriers with radar systems and will upgrade the plane's avionics.

At the Aero India 2005 exhibition earlier this month in Bangalore, Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) displayed its Mosquito micro-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which can be launched from inside a room, and its Bird 400 UAV. Defense News'' reports that IAI is the largest vendor of UAV's to the Indian Army.

At the Aero India 2005, IAI also displayed its Delilah missile, which India wants to buy. Rafael displayed its SPYDER Air Defense System, which incorporates the Derby active radar (RF) missile and Python 5 dual waveband Imaging Infra Red (IIR) missile. India wants to buy 75 Spyders.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on February 23, 2005

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