By Tania Kepler, the Alternative Information Center (AIC) – 20 Feb 2011
The Indian Air Force and the Israeli weapons manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems are set to sign a major contract in March 2011, which will outfit India’s Tejas fighter jets with Rafael’s Derby missile.
This is not the Indian Air Force’s first deal with Rafael, a former sub-division of the Israeli Defense Ministry, now considered a governmental firm that develops and produces fighting-technologies for the Israel Defense Forces as well for exporting abroad.
The Indian Army purchased $270 million worth of Spyder anti-aircraft missile systems in 2008.
In 2009, Rafael agreed to supply the Indian Army with advanced anti-aircraft systems with a range of up to 45 kilometers. The deal was worth $1 billion.
“Israel’s homeland security systems are very advanced and India can benefit from your experience. We are friendly countries and strategic partners based on sound fundamental principles. We have to cooperate to the fullest extent to combat the menace of terror,” Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Jyotiraditya Scindia said in February 2010.
Israel’s defense exports to India have now reached around $3 billion, making it the largest arms supplier to India, reported the BDS movement.
Israel and India are enhancing cooperation in other areas as well.
“We have outlined several areas of cooperation but will be mainly focusing in the area of renewable energy and computer sciences in the coming years where we see tremendous potential for both the countries”, India’s Minister for Science and Technology, Prithviraj Chavan said on a three day visit to Israel in March 2010.
“The leading Israeli institutions have shown a keen interest in working with our IITs on exchange and collaboration of research, faculty and students. I think this will be an important step in enhancing scientific cooperation between the two countries”, Mr. Chavan said.
Bilateral trade between India and Israel has grown from around $200 million in 1992 when the diplomatic relations were established to most recently around $4 billion.
Israel is now working on winning the minds of Indians as well, in order to add the very populous country to Israel’s list of supporters.
Most recently, The Israel Project (TIP), a non-profit, non-government organization that “works tirelessly to help protect Israel by improving Israel’s image”, launched a new campaign in India to strengthen relations between the two countries.
“As relations between Israel and India, the world’s largest democracy and a growing economic power strengthen, The Israel Project is proud to announce the formation of our new India program,” TIP said in a January press release.
The new initiative will target Indian policymakers, journalists and the public “to spread awareness about Israel and help strengthen ties with India, especially in the fields of trade, tourism and technology,” reported India’s SIFY News