Israeli pavilion showcased latest weaponry to woo IndiaFebruary 16th, 2009 - 12:34 pm ICT by IANS
Bangalore, Feb 16 (IANS) Israeli defence firms went all out to woo India, one of its biggest customers, at the Aero India Show here and Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor spent considerable time at the huge pavilion, checking out some of the latest weaponry.
Israel’s pavilion at the seventh edition of the Feb 11-15 Aero-India 2009 international air show was one the biggest shows and evoked a lot of interest.
The Israeli pavilion even screened a bhangra pop number shot in Hindi-film style to attract Indian buyers. Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems put up big screens showing Israeli artists wearing lehanga-choli and dancing to bhangra beats.
An Indian defence ministry official told IANS: “Last year, an Indian delegation led by Defence Secretary Vijay Singh had gone to Israel for talks to bolster the strategic ties between the two countries. And this year Israel has got one of the biggest pavilions at the Aero India. This signifies that the ties between the two countries will strengthen in the years to come.”
India is Israel’s biggest customer for weapons and has a longstanding relationship with Tel Aviv despite geopolitical sensitivities and allegations of kickbacks in defence deals. Since the 1999 Kargil conflict India has bought military hardware and software from Israel worth around $8 billion.
General Deepak Kapoor, accompanied by two top army officers, spent considerable time at the pavilion set up by the Israeli heavy munitions and missiles manufacturing industry.
Kapoor checked out Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, especially its short range and medium range missiles on simulators. He “blew up” an enemy tank using the short range “Spike” missile.
Kapoor also visited the pavilion set up by the Elbit system. The system specialises in the manufacture of defence airborne systems, unmanned vehicles and combat vehicle systems.
In 2004, India ordered three Phalcon Airborne Early Warning radar systems from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), fitted on Russian-built Ilyushin II-76 aircraft. Israel has also sold IAI Malat-built Searcher MkII and IAI Heron unmanned aerial vehicles to the Indian Air Force. The IAI recently upgraded 32 Hind Mi-24 helicopters for the Indian Army.
Currently, Rafael is a major company vying for a $10-billion contract for the supply of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force.
In 2008, Rafael won the Indian order for low-level quick reaction missile system (LLQRM), which was competing with the mobile SPYDER (Surface-to-air Python and Derby) short-range air defence system. The company is now competing for India’s quick reaction missile (QRM) and medium range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) order with the SPYDER-SR (short-range) and SPYDER-MR (medium-range) missile systems.
(Ritu Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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