India Okays Spy Plane Deal With Israel Ahead of PM Modi's Visit

The sub-continent is expected to procure some $3 billion worth of military equipment from Israel prior to the visit of Narendra Modi later this year.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

India's Cabinet Committee on Security this week approved the purchase of two more Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) from Israel, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Israel later this year, The Hindu newspaper reported.

Modi's state visit to Israel will be the first by an Indian prime minister. Ties between the two countries have warmed considerably since he came to power in May 2014.

India previously procured three Phalcon AWACS – which have Israeli radar equipment from the Israel Aerospace Industries mounted on Russian IL-76 transport aircraft – in 2003 at cost of $1 billion.

In all, India is expected to procure Israeli military equipment worth an estimated $3 billion ahead of Modi's visit, according to a report by the HIS Jane's 380 website.

AWACS plane.
Seattle Aviator (Wikipedia)

In addition to the AWACS, it is due to procure four supplementary Rafael/IAI radar-equipped aerostats for low-level air and sea surveillance by the Indian Air Force. India previously procured two such aerostats in 2007-08 for $504 million.

The CCS, the federal government's primary body on defense and security matters, is also expected to approve a joint development project by IAI/Rafael and India's state-run Defense Research and Development Organization for medium-range surface-to-air missiles for the Indian Army.

A previous joint venture, established in January 2006, successfully test-fired the 70 km-range Barak-8 air defense missile in late 2014, following a five-year delay. The Barak-8 is to be fitted onto Indian Navy warships.

Other Israeli products that are likely to be approved by the CCS include 250 advanced Rafael Smart Precise Impact and Cost Effective guidance kits for air-to-surface munitions and 164 Litening-4 laser designation pods for the air force's Su-30MKI, Jaguar, and Mirage 2000H strike aircraft fleets.

HIS Jane's quoted Indian military sources as saying that 321 Rafael Spike anti-tank guided weapon systems and 8,356 missiles for the Indian Army could also be on the purchase list. Previously stalled negotiations on those systems have recently resumed.