India and Israel ink missile deals

India and Israel inked mega defence deals worth over $2 billion for advanced surface-to-air missile systems, which are designed to destroy hostile aircraft, missiles and drones at a range of 70-km,.

The major deal was for the joint project between the Defence Research and Development Organization and Israel Aerospace Industries for the Barak-8 medium-range SAM systems, to initially include one regiment of 16 launchers and 560 missiles for the Indian Army . The second deal to be inked was for a similar SAM system to be fitted on board the 40,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, being built at the Cochin Shipyard.

The Modi-led cabinet committee on security in February had cleared the MR-SAM project for the Army at an overall cost of Rs.16,830 crore, which will now include a first instalment of Rs.1,500 crore.

This project follows two similar DRDO-IAI programmes already underway for the next-generation SAMs for Indian warships at an initial cost of Rs.2,606 crore, and nine air defence squadrons for IAF for Rs.10,076 crore.

These Barak-8 systems, with their multi-function surveillance and threat alert radars as well as weapon control systems with data links, can detect and track hostile aerial threats at a range of 100-km and destroy them at 70-km. Consequently , they will help in plugging the existing holes in India's air defence coverage.

There are several more big ticket deals in the pipeline. These include two more Israeli Phalcon AWACS, and four more Aerostat radars at a cost upwards of $1.5 billion.

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