Israel expanding defense cooperation with India

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A record 28 Israeli companies are displaying their wares at the Defexpo India exhibition this week.

The Ministry of Defense is trying to promote a new joint venture between Israeli defense companies and Indian industries for the development of a future armored fighting vehicle (AFV) for the Indian army. A senior defense source told "Globes" that the plan was at an initial stage.

Referring to the intention to promote cooperative development of the new vehicle, the senior source cited the cooperation between Israel and Indian companies in large-scale security ventures in recent years. One of the main ventures shared by Israel and India is the development of the Barak 8 missile, led by Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) and Indian research and development concern DRDO. "We are at the beginning of this love affair for joint development of the new AFV," the source told "Globes." "There are quite a few joint ventures we want to promote with the Indians."

One sign of the warm relations between Israeli defense companies and the Indian Ministry of Defense appeared at the Defexpo India exhibition, which opened this week in Goa, India. No fewer than 28 defense companies from Israel are presenting their developments and products there designed for the current and future defense needs of the Indian army. This is a record for the number of defense companies from Israel taking part in an Indian weapons exhibition. "The main feature that Israel brings to this exhibition is its innovative technologies. We see amazing enthusiasm form the Indians for these technologies," SIBAT - Ministry of Defense International Defense Cooperation Authority head Brigadier General (res.) Michel Ben-Baruch told "Globes."

"Similar threats"

Dozens of countries are taking part in the weapons exhibition in Goa, and the pavilion set up by SIBAT for the Israeli companies is considered one of the largest at the exhibition. Large companies like Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT), Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., and IAI are making presentations there, together with small and medium-sized companies, including Plasan Sasa, Orbit Technologies Ltd. (TASE:ORBI), IWI, and Magal Security Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: MAGS). Ministry of Defense director general General (res.) Dan Harel and Ben-Baruch inaugurated the Israeli pavilion. Ben-Baruch said, "India is a country of enormous capabilities. Israel's major presence at this exhibition reflects our wish to strengthen the ties with Indian companies and increase local production of advanced military technologies. In the defense sphere, Israel and India face similar threats and cooperation between the countries will be of great assistance in dealing with these threats and will contribute to both countries' economies."

Among the 28 Israeli companies making presentations at Defexpo India are startups that were involved in recent years in developing technologies. Many of these technologies have already been used successfully on the battlefield. The products displayed in the Israeli pavilion include unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems, unmanned vessels, advanced missiles and precise rockets, robot systems, electro-optical systems for use by artillery and infantry forces, and battlefield tactical medical equipment.

$10 billion of cooperation

Rafael yesterday reported that it had signed a $10 billion agreement with Indian giant company Reliance Defense, owned by billionaire Anil Ambani. The agreement reflects Rafael's effort to improve its position ahead of a series of huge Indian Ministry of Defense tenders slated for publication in the coming years.

Rafael intends to offer its SPYDER defense system and its Derby and Python air-to-air missiles in these tenders. In addition, the company is preparing for the publication of a tender in India for the supply of large observation balloons bearing advanced radar; these have already been sold in the past to for use by Indian forces. If Rafael wins these tenders, it will set up production in India through Reliance Defense, in line with the Indian government's policy of encouraging production on Indian territory.

Elbit Systems also produces some of its products on Indian soil. Some of these products, such as positions for light weapons for use by the Indian army, are being made in plants belonging to giant Indian concern Tata. Elbit Systems today announced a new cooperation agreement with Alpha Design Technologies for the production of Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 UAVs, subject to winning the future tenders for production of such systems for the Indian Ministry of Defense.

In addition, a robot vehicle company controlled by Israeli entrepreneur Amos Goren, which is developing the Amstaff unmanned vehicle, is currently testing a smaller model of the Amstaff that will have greater maneuverability capability and the ability to carry a variety of special payloads for security missions on the borders and at sensitive installations. The smaller version of the Amstaff was developed in cooperation with the India-Israel Initiative for Industrial R&D. "Once the vehicle successfully completes the series of tests in India, it has the potential for large-scale sales for use by the Indian armed forces," Goren declared.

Made in India

Senior Israeli defense industry sources are trying to take encouragement from statements by senior Indian administration officials about their intention to relieve the bureaucracy in the country and significantly shorten the processes and timetables for tenders, which sometimes last for years, thereby expediting major deals. "The needs of the Indian market are becoming more and more complex and changing over the years in both defense of India's marine and land borders and internal security challenges," says IAI CEO Joseph Weiss. "The question of local production, made in India, and reciprocal procurement requirements in India are posing a difficult challenge for us, and we have been dealing with it for many years by enhancing cooperation with DRDO and local industry."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 30, 2016

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016

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