Israel’s security relationship with India is out in the open after years of being under wraps, the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Thursday, pledging to play a bigger role in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to build an industrial base.
Israel has emerged as one of India’s top three arms suppliers, delivering items such as ship defense missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, but such transactions have been unpublicized, largely because of India’s fear of upsetting Arab countries and its own large Muslim population.
“We used to have our relationship, security-wise, behind the scene,” he said in a speech in New Delhi after attending an air show in Bengaluru.
“And now I am here … in Delhi to meet Prime Minister Modi and other ministers.”
The visit comes as the two sides hold talks on a major deal for the supply of two airborne early warning radars to be mounted on India’s Russian-made aircraft.
Three such Phalcon AWACS that give the air force the “eyes in the sky” to detect flight movements across a wide arc were inducted in 2004, signalling the beginning of a strategic partnership.
Israel was dissuaded from selling the same system to China because of pressure from the United States, officials said.
Under Modi, India has speeded up an arms modernization drive to counter the rising weight of China, but the government wants to cut dependence on foreign supplies and build a domestic industrial base.
Israeli government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Indian company Kalyani Group announced an agreement on Thursday to establish a joint venture to produce missile systems, remotely controlled weapons positions, and advanced systems for the protection of tanks and APCs.