Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met Thursday with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Aero India 2015, the country’s top military technology exposition.
The Israeli pavilion is expected to be one of the most prominent this year due to the increasing military cooperation between both nations. A “substantial” joint venture has already been formed between Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and India’s Kalyani Group.
India is the world’s top importer of defense hardware, and one of Modi’s goals is to see 70% of this hardware manufactured domestically by the turn of the decade. To achieve this, he is seeking to promote joint ventures between Indian and foreign defense firms, as well as encouraging foreign defense firms to manufacture their products in India. Israel’s defense industry has been benefiting tremendously from this trend.
Aero India is already paying dividends for Israeli exhibitors. Israel’s Rafael and India’s Kalyani Group have formed a new joint venture for the manufacturing of missiles, remote weapons systems and advanced armor solutions. The size of the joint venture has not been released, but Kalyani Group Chairman and Managing Director Baba Kalyani told India’s Business Standard newspaper that it was “substantial.”
Other exhibitors at Aero India include Israel Aerospace Industries, which is showcasing a new naval airplane, Elbit Systems with its anti-missile defense products, and a number of smaller companies, such as Video Inform, Orbit Technologies, and Opgal.
Ya’alon inaugurated the Israeli pavillion with praise for the growth in defense ties. “I am proud to be the first defense minister who visits here and meets with senior government officials, whose leadership and vision to lead India seeks prosperity and growth,” he said. In an interview with Telegraph India he said, “This is my first official visit. The relationship [between Israel and India] is deepening after the [September 2014] meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu in New York. We see continuous progress and common interests.”
Israel-India Ties Grow
On the event of his visit with the Indian Prime Minister, Ya’alon wrote on Twitter, “India is a very important country, and we are following with great appreciation the commitments and actions of PM Modi to lead India towards the peaks of growth.”
In parallel with the defense minister’s visit, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is discussing amending the Defense Export Controls Act in order to facilitate the export of Israeli defense products.
The past several months have seen a number of arms deals between Israel and India, with a corresponding growth in diplomatic ties. Last October, India agreed to purchase $525 million worth of Israel’s Spike guided missiles, which were used extensively in last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. Another arms agreement, worth $144 million, will supply India’s battleships with 262 “Barak 1″ missiles. India’s Defense Research and Development Organization is a major partner in financing and developing the “Barak 8″ defense missile system, which saw its first successful trial in November.