India to export $100mn of composites to Israel

June 6th, 2008 - 7:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) In yet another pointer to India’s growing technological skills, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is to export lightweight composite materials worth $100 million to Israel, which will be using them to manufacture man-portable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that could find their way back to this country. “The composites will considerably lighten the weight of the machine and enable it to fly at heights of 10,000 feet making it virtually immune to enemy fire from the ground,” an official said.

HAL has acquired considerable expertise in the sphere of composites, which it manufactures from carbon fibres it imports from France and Japan.

Composites are extensively used for the indigenously built light combat aircraft and the advanced light helicopter, as also for a light attack helicopter HAL is developing.

“The new generation UAVs are considerably smaller and are man-portable,” the official added.

Their small size makes them a powerful force multiplier as they provide infantry units on the frontline with battlefield reconnaissance data in real time.

The Indian Army is keen to deploy the new generation UAVs and is working on a global tender that it will soon float.

“The army will obviously be looking at the best that is available and Israel too will make its pitch. Given the fact that the army is looking at upwards of 1,000 such machines, no one manufacturer will be able to fulfil this order. Thus, some of the Israeli UAVs could find their way here,” the official pointed out.

The deal is one more indicator of the growing military ties between New Delhi and Tel Aviv, with Israel emerging as India’s second biggest source of military hardware after Russia. India’s imports from Israel currently stand at $1 billion.

India is awaiting the delivery of the first of three Phalcon airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) that it has purchased from Israel and which are currently being mounted on an Il-78 platform.

The two countries had last year entered into a Rs.100 billion ($2.5 billion) joint venture to develop a medium-range surface-to-air missile.

However, their Rs.14 billion JV to develop an extended-range version of the Barak missile that is deployed on frontline Indian Navy warships like the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant has been put on hold following allegations of corruption in the initial purchase of the system.

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