The Indo-Israel relation go beyond military relations. Currently Israel is the third largest supplier of defence items to India. However, looking at the defence contracts in pipeline, it is gearing to be the top supplier for Indian requirement for defence weapons and ammunition in near future.

The Indo-Israeli relationship continues to reach new heights with growing ties between Israel and India. The following are just some of the many ways in which Israel and India are working together to promote a brighter and more prosperous future for all.

            Till now the main area of growth in India-Israel ties is in the realm of security and defence. The modernization programme of Indian Armed Forces since year 2000 has given impetus to this Indo-Israel relationship. Apart from the fact that Israel always came forward to provide military equipment to India when most needed. Since then defence deals with Israel have grown exponentially. The orders placed in last 3 years and Value in Rs Crores on some of the leading supplier countries is as under:-

            If we closely look at figures of the orders placed by India for supplying arms, USA stood first, Russia stood second, Israel is in the third position, and France comes the fourth position.

            Israel was the third-largest arms supplier to India in the three fiscal years ending March 2016, having bagged 10 deals worth a total of INR 76 billion ~ ($1.2 billion), according to an Indian parliament report. Only the U.S. and Russia have made more defense deals with India during the period. India-Israel ties have great strength and value in the relationship as Israel is one of India's foremost supplier of weapons and related high-end technology. In case we analyse the pattern of Arms Supplied by Israel to India during 2000-2016 (in $ millions), it is evident that India continues to increasingly order arms from Israel, an indicator to healthy military and diplomatic relationship.

            By carefully observing the figures we can see that over the sixteen years Israel's arms supplies has increased many fold. Today, India is the number one export target of the Israel defence industry. Nearly 41 % of Israel defence exports are to India hence, India's defence import sustains Israel defence industry. Seen from India's perspective, we have been able broaden our defence equipment import basket and not remained depended on one source. The bilateral trade between two countries amounted to $4.13 billion during 2016 and expected to maintain an upward trajectory with growing closeness between the nations.

Israeli Defence Industry

The Israeli arms manufacturing base possesses niche specialisations in many of the areas where India's defence industry is the most wanting, particularly UAVs, missile systems, precision-guided munitions, electro-optics, and, especially radars. In many ways, therefore, the Indo-Israeli arms supplier/arms buyer relationship is almost symbiotic in terms of supply-and demand. Israel produces a wide range of products from ammunition, small arms and artillery pieces to sophisticated electronic systems and the world's most advanced tank. The development of a sophisticated defense industry inevitably led to exports, which today account for a majority of its revenues and allows the country's defense industry to compete against some of the largest companies in the world for foreign contracts.

            There are approximately 150 defense firms in Israel, with combined revenues of an estimated $ 2 billion.

            The three largest entities are the government-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israel Military Industries Ltd (IMI) and the Rafael Arms Development Authority, all of which produce a wide range of conventional arms and advanced defense electronics. The medium-sized privately owned companies include Elbit Systems and the Tadiran Group, which focus mainly on defense electronics. The smaller firms produce a narrower range of products. In all, the industry employs close to 50,000 people, all of whom share a commitment to high levels of research and development and the ability to make use of the IDF's combat experience.

            Recently, in view of the emerging needs of Indian industry in order to prepare for the large-scale procurement of armored vehicles by the Indian Army expected in the coming years, a  seminar conducted by SIBAT in India. Representatives of over 20 Israeli companies involved in the development and production program for the Merkava tank and Namer Armored Personnel Carrier attended, beside a number of Indian industry member participated.

            In many ways, the Israeli-Indian arms transfer relationship has been a mutually beneficial enterprise. In the first place, Israeli technology fills critical gaps in India's woefully deficient domestic defence industrial base. The Israeli defence companies are willing to provide the requisite technology with potential defence deals and are also ready for joint development in defence which has been missing in the deals concluded with US and European countries. As India strives to develop its own broader industrial capabilities, the defence partnerships with friendly international defence players could provide an avenue for capability and knowledge transfers. This would also enable countries to grow not only their defence industry base but also benefit SMEs, supply chains and local distribution networks.

Procurement in Pipeline

The medium-range surface-to-air missiles (MRSAM) deal with Israel Aerospace Industries worth about $ 2 billion is the Israel's biggest defence contract. The other major defence deals in pipeline are for the Spike anti-tank missiles for the Indian Army and Barak-8 air defence missiles for the Navy valued at $ 1.5 billion. Some past procurement are:-

  • Searcher and Heron surveillance UAVs
  • Harpy and Harop loitering anti-radiation drones
  • The Popeye air-to-ground missile
  • The Python-4 air-to-air missile
  • The SPYDER air-defence system (which employs both the Derby and Python-5 missiles)
  • The Barak-1 air-defence missile (outfitted to Indian naval vessels)
  • The Green Pine multifunctional (search, detection, track, and guidance) missile-defence radar
  • The Phalcon EL/M-2090 airborne early-warning and control (AEW+C) radar, fitted on Russian Il-76 transport aircraft
  • The Lightening night/adverse weather precision-targeting pod (for fighter jets)
  • Indian industry is looking for partnership in following areas
  • Aerial Reconnaissance Equipment, Airborne Radio Transmitters/Receivers, Radars and Navigation Equipment
  • Air Conditioners in Tanks
  • Air Defence Data Handling System including Ground Radar and Equipment including Air Defence Control & Reporting System
  • Aluminium / Titanium & Steel Rolled Rings & Forgings
  • Ammunition Hardware (Fuses), Small Arms Components, etc
  • C4I and EW Opportunities
  • CNC precision machining
  • Computer-based Trainers, Simulators and other Training Equipment
  • Control actuation systems and guidance for the Ground, Marine and Air borne Applications.
  • Customized DG Sets for defence applications
  • Defence Grade Power Electronics and Control Electronics
  • Design & Manufacturing of Defence& Aerospace Products
  • Embedded technologies for sensor-fusion and combat systems
  • Niche Cables for military use Radio Frequency Coaxial cables, Control cables, communication cables, electrical cables
  • Manufacturing of Electro-Mechanical Sub-Assemblies, MRO Services, Civil Infrastructure Services, Supplier of Power Supplies, Telescopic Masts, Data Acquisition Systems.
  • Naval Combat Management Systems
  • Network Centric Warfare Enablers, Communication Systems including Network & spectrum Management
  • Optronics
  • Overhauling and up gradation of Tanks
  • Precision Machined, Fabricated Components & Assembled Aggregates for Aircrafts & Other Aerospace Applications
  • Radars
  • Setting up/Upgradation/Modernisation of Air field Infrastructure, Strategic Facilities & Air Bases
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Aerial Reconnaissance Equipment, PTA & Air-Ground Data Link
  • War-Head Casings for cluster Bomb

Opportunity in Other Areas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's high-profile visit with a high-profile delegation of Israeli companies drawn from areas like agriculture, water, cyber security, health care and security has facilitated broader industrial interaction and co-operation between two countries. During the visit India and Israel have signed nine agreements to boost cooperation in the areas of space, cyber security and oil & gas between both countries.

  • MoU on Cyber Security Cooperation between India and Israel
  • MoU between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Ministry of Energy on Cooperation in Oil and Gas Sector
  • Protocol between India and Israel on Amendments to the Air Transport Agreement
  • Agreement on Film-co-production between India and Israel
  • MoU between the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, Ministry of AYUSH and the Centre for Integrative Complementary Medicine, Shaare Zedek Medical Center on Cooperation in the field of Research in Homeopathic Medicine
  • MoU between Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) and the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology for Cooperation in the field of space
  • Memorandum of Intent between Invest India and Invest in Israel
  • Letter of Intent between IOCL and Phinergy Ltd. For cooperation in the area of metal-air batteries
  • Letter of Intent between IOCL and Yeda Research and Development Co Ltd for cooperation in the area of concentrated solar thermal technologies

            Israel will also invest $68.6 million to boost cooperation with India in areas like tourism, technology, agriculture and innovation over a period of four years. The commitment is in addition to the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund of $40 million over five years.


Military diplomacy seems to have found strong foothold in the new Government's policy as they are keen to strengthen defense relations with friendly foreign countries coupled with being more pro-active. It is true that India and Israel is making sincere efforts to reconstruct friendly, diplomatic and militarily relations. Source says that Indo-Israel relation will go beyond military relations. It is said that Free Trade Agreement between both countries is in progress. The defense cooperation for many years has been central pillars of the relationship.

[Issue: 1, January-February 2018]

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