Head of India's Navy Arrives in Israel for Meeting With Defense Chief

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The 'Barak 8' missile defense system undergoes testing in 2015.
The 'Barak 8' missile defense system undergoes testing in 2015.Credit: IDF Spokespersons Unit

The head of the Indian navy arrived in Israel on Sunday evening for a five-day visit during which he will meet Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Israel Navy Commander Maj. Gen. Eli Sharvit.

Indian media reported that during his visit, Staff Adm. Sunil Lanba will follow up on the progress being made in “joint projects and initiatives with Israel.”

One of the things that interests India is how Israel is securing its gas fields in the Mediterranean. The plan for securing the area includes the purchase of four patrol boats made by the German company Thyssenkrupp, the use of drones, and the collection of intelligence relating to possible attacks on the fields, whether by missile fire, sea vessels, or aircraft.

“The threats [faced by the two militaries] are totally different, but in the end, they too want to learn about the technologies we are using and their concept,” said an Israeli naval officer.

“The world of terror has also changed, and they are coming to the conclusion there that with a small investment, an attack on a platform like a gas field can cause a strategic crisis or seriously harm a country.”

Reflecting Indian interest in this issue, a joint working group was formed that is focusing on the ability to monitor and defend a broad marine area. “They have a threat from Pakistan, so India is trying to learn from things we have that are similar,” the officer added. “We plan to continue to cooperate to see where the challenges overlap. It’s a mutual need.”

Both navies are using the Barak 8 missile system on their ships, which is meant to counter threats posed by missiles, like the advanced Yakhount missile, against sea vessels. Israel Aerospace Industries, the system’s developer, considers the Barak 8 to be an air defense system; it is part of joint Israeli-Indian development project.

IAI over the past few months has reported on a number of significant deals with India. In April it announced that it had signed a contract to transfer the land version of Barak 8, and that it had installed the Barak 8 system on an India aircraft carrier in a transaction worth around $2 billion. Three weeks ago it was reported that the Barak 8 system would also be installed on four Indian warships for an additional $630 million.

Next month Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Israel and Israeli defense industry sources expect addition weapons deals will be signed with India during his visit.

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