Israel's Defense Minister to Make Historic Visit to India

This would be the first visit by an Israeli defense minister to India since the establishment of diplomatic relations; trip seeks to boost Israel’s weapon exports to India.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is leaving for India later this month on a first official visit by an Israeli defense minister since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The upcoming visit was first disclosed Thursday morning in Yedioth Ahronoth.

Ya’alon will view an arms exhibition in mid-February in Bangalore. Many other representatives of Israeli defense industries will also visit the exhibition. It is expected that Ya’alon’s visit will enhance the interaction between Israeli industries and India. There are currently several armament deals between the two countries under review.

Israel is considered to be one of the major suppliers of India’s military, and there are reports of several recently completed deals. In October, India closed a deal whereby it would purchase thousands of anti-tank Spike missiles from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, for an estimated half a billion dollars. In addition, after a freeze of several years, the purchase of Barak missiles for India’s navy is on again, and hundreds of these missiles will be supplied beginning this year.

A further deal under review is the purchase of aircraft with early warning AWACS systems, produced by Israel Aerospace Industries. This will supplement a similar purchase made a decade ago.

Defense relations between the two countries are considered to be very close and have further improved since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. Last July, India’s defense minister visited Israel and during the course of his visit several new deals were discussed. The largest Israeli military mission except for in the United States is located in India, consisting of six representatives, including two officers and four civilians.

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