India has announced it will purchase surface-to-air missiles from Israel, two weeks before Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to go there on a four-day visit, according to AFP.
The purchase order is to include 131 missiles in a $70 million deal, India’s defense ministry said on Tuesday.
The Barak missiles made by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems were requisitioned for India’s first aircraft carrier, currently under construction.
Netanyahu plans to head a business delegation to India in mid-January, though a specific date was not announced.
Israel has become a major defense supplier to India, selling an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year.
Last April the two countries signed a military deal worth nearly $2 billion that includes a supply over several years of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology.
It was unclear whether the deal made public on Tuesday was part of that, AFP noted.
Later on Tuesday, it was disclosed that India had canceled a separate contract, for $500 million worth of anti-tank missiles. A spokesperson for Rafael Defense Systems, which was to be the supplier for both, confirmed that it had been notified of the cancellation last week.
David Keynan, vice chairman of the Federation of Indo-Israeli Chambers of Commerce, told The Times of Israel that it could have a damaging effect on defense contracts between the two countries, and in the market generally.
“It is a very noteworthy deal. It will have an impact not only on defense trade, but on all trade,” Keynan said.
“Rafael was disappointed to receive the decision,” the company said in a statement.
“It should be stressed that the cancellation was done before the contract was signed, and despite the fact that the company fulfilled all its requirements,” Rafael said.
Updated Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 1:02 pm .