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Monday, January 7, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

Israel, India deepening strategic ties

TEL AVIV — India and Israel have been discussing the prospect of an expanding defense relationship with strategic implications.

Indian Navy commander Adm. Sureesh Mehta concluded a four-day visit to Israel on Sunday in an effort to agree on joint defense projects over the next year, Middle East Newsline reported. Mehta, also chairman of the Indian Joint Chiefs of Staff, met his Israeli Navy counterpart and senior defense officials in discussions on weapons projects and joint training.

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Mehta was said to have reviewed efforts to enhance the Israeli-origin Barak missile defense system. The Barak-2, meant to protect ships from a range of missiles, was designed to expand the interception and detection envelope.

Industry sources said India has sought to purchase Israeli missile technology. The sources cited Indian interest in Israel's Python-5 and Derby air-to-air missiles as well as the Delilah-2 air-launched cruise missile.

Mehta was said to have also discussed the navy's interest in Israel's Gabriel-3 anti-ship missile. Gabriel-3 was described as a sea-skimming missile developed by IAI.

The Indian Navy has also been briefed on unmanned aerial vehicles for surface vessels. India has a range of Israeli UAVs, including the strategic Heron platform.

India has already deployed 14 Barak-1 systems, produced by the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries. Under the sale, some of the components of the Barak were produced in India.

For its part, Israel plans to launch its first spy satellite from India. The launch of IAI's TechSAR had been scheduled for September 2007, but technical mishaps delayed launch until sometime in early 2008.

Officials said TechSAR, Israel's first synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite, would be placed into orbit by India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. They said India and Israel were seeking to resolve unidentified defects in TechSAR.

India and Israel were said to have close relations with New Dehli, deemed the biggest client of Israel's defense industry. In early January, the Indian-Israeli working group on defense examined a range of joint research and development projects.

Officials said India has sought to replace weapons procurement from Israel with joint development projects. They said the projects also envisioned third country sales that would benefit India and Israel.



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