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By Bulbul Singh

20 Aug 08. Israel has moved ahead of Russia in snatching development projects for Indian defence forces. Even as the Indian government approved $3bn co-development of air defence systems between India and Israel to replace aging Russian systems, sources said more co-development and co-production projects are lined up between India and Israel in the future.

“Both India and Israel have been facing external and internal security threats in the form of Islamic terrorism and sabotage, thus the growing defence ties between the two countries is natural,” remarked a defence ministry official.

“Israel is helping in the development and production of hi-tech systems for the Indian defence forces, including advanced air defence systems, precision guided ammunition, submarine launched nuclear missiles and even advanced cruise missiles,” revealed sources in the Indian defence ministry.

Israel has taken the route of collaborating with the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), unlike the U.S., Russian and European companies which are largely engaged in the sale of defence equipment along with transfer of technology.

Israel has emerged as the largest supplier of defence equipment and weaponry to India since 1999, ranking second to Russia. Indian defence ministry officials admit that Israel could overtake Russia in the next few years to become the major supplier of weaponry to India directly and in collaboration with DRDO.

Israel has also made available unidentified numbers of Green Pine radars to DRDO, which are being used to build India’s homegrown anti-ballistic missile system said sources in DRDO. “Besides, Israeli companies are directly involved in the development of an advanced nuclear capable cruise missile for the Indian defence forces,” added the sources. Israel is also helping India in the co-production of a hypersonic plane. No details are available.

DRDO is also collaborating with Israeli companies for the development of nano-technologies and hi-tech components for Electronic Warfare systems.

“Israel has also emerged as a valuable source of military technologies from its advanced defence industries,” Indian defence ministry sources said.

“Israeli hi-tech industries could also benefit from the attractive Indian defence market, to market and co-produce its equipment.” remarked an Indian defence ministry official, who added that the Israeli industries can benefit from India’s advanced IT industry to develop new generation hi-tech systems including C4I systems needed by the Indian defence forces.

Last week the Indian government approved a $2.5bn program to co-produce surface-to-air missile systems for the Indian defence forces in collaboration with Israel. The program will replace the aging Russian air defence system, Pechora.

“The system is an extended range version of the Barak air defence system, which is to be produced jointly with India’s DRDO. While it has not been officially said what parts would be produced by the Indian entity,” sources in DRDO said, the majority of the system would be built by Israeli companies.

Collaborations with Israel will help keep alive several DRDO projects which had been lying dormant due to delays and technical problems,” said a DRDO scientist.

A defence ministry official admitted that Israeli help will be sought to complete hundreds of DRDO projects which have been delayed for decades including the missiles to be developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program, initiated in the early 80’s by DRDO. The program includes Quick Reaction missiles like the Trishul, the Akash medium-range air defence system, and the Nag anti-tank guided missile.

Israel is also collaborating with DRDO to co-produce advanced UAVs. Currently IAI of Israel is the major supplier of UAVs to the Indian defence forces which include the Searcher-I, Searcher-2 and the Heroin UAVs. In a

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