India and Israel will jointly develop a new generation of medium-range surface-to-air missiles in a $2.47 billion project that India hopes will secure its strategic assets, Indian newspapers reported this week.

India's Cabinet Committee on Security approved the joint venture Thursday, according to Indian newspaper The Economic Times.

In an article Friday, The Times of India called the project "yet another indicator that Indo-Israeli strategic ties are zooming full-steam ahead, with India buying Israeli military equipment worth a whopping $1.6 billion just in 2006 alone."

The missile system, which is expected to take four to five years to develop, is capable of detecting and destroying aircraft, missiles and drones at a range of 70 kilometers, the Times of India reported.

It quoted an unnamed source as saying that each of the 18 firing units will come equipped with a command and control center, an acquisition radar, a guidance radar and three launchers with eight missiles each.

The missile system development is an extension of a $480 million Israel Aerospace Industries project, launched in January 2006, to develop a supersonic 60-kilometer missile defense system for the Indian navy, the paper said.