India, Israel weigh joint
missile project

Friday, September 3, 2004

LONDON India and Israel are examining the feasibility of conducting a joint missile project.

Indian officials said the project would comprise the joint production of a long-range missile. They said the discussions began in 2003 and have achieved progress.

"Wherever they have strengths, we want to jointly develop the missiles so that both countries can benefit and share designs, costs and risks," India's chief defense scientist V.K. Atre said.

Atre told a news conference on Aug. 31 that the talks over joint missile development were taking place between India's Defence Research and Development Organization and the Israeli Defense Ministry. He said the two countries were currently conducting joint research and development of sensors and fiber-optic gyroscopes for the military. Atre is the outgoing secretary of the Defence Research and Development Organization.

Officials said India has sought Israeli help to improve the guidance systems of New Dehli's new long-range missiles. India has been planning to complete development of its intermediate-range Agni-3 missile, with a range of more than 3,000 kilometers. They said Israel was summoned to help overcome unspecified technical difficulties with the missile.

On Aug. 29, India announced a successful test its Agni-2, reported to have a range of 2,500 kilometers. The Agni was meant to carry a one-ton nuclear warhead.

Indian officials said Israel was expected to provide expertise and technology for several additional Indian missile development projects stalled because of technical difficulties. They said this would include the Akash medium-altitude surface-to-air missile, the short-range Trishul surface-to-air missile and the Nag-4 anti-tank missile.

Over the next year, officials said, the two countries would seek to launch up to three defense research and development projects. They said India's DRDO and Israeli defense contractors would fund the programs.

In July, India and Israel held strategic defense talks in New Dehli in which a range of projects were discussed. Indian sources said the Israeli Defense Ministry delegation urged Indian officials to approve proposals for arms sales and expanded training and technology transfers.

Officials said the Akash, with a range of 25 kilometers, would be ready for deployment by the end of 2004. The Akash missile was said to have entered serial production in 2000.

The Nag is a fire-and-forget anti-tank missile with a range of up to six kilometers. The Nag development program was launched in 1983 but stalled by technical difficulties.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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