“As strategic partners, India and Israel enjoy strong, multi-dimensional ties, an important pillar of which is defence cooperation and military level exchanges. ACM Bhadauria arrived in Israel on Tuesday on an invitation by Major General Amikam Norkin, commander of the Israel Air Force,” said an officer.
Interestingly, the IAF chief has travelled to Israel after a visit to the UAE, where he held discussions with his counterpart Major General Ibrahim Nasser M Al Alawi, among others. The UAE has taken the lead among the Gulf countries in “normalizing” ties with Israel. India has close strategic-military ties with both the countries.
Israel has been among the top four arms suppliers (along with US, Russia and France) to India for almost two decades now, with military sales worth around $1 billion every year.
The Indian armed forces have inducted a wide array of Israeli weapon systems, ranging from Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) and Heron, Searcher-II and Harop drones to Barak anti-missile defence systems and Spyder quick-reaction anti-aircraft missile systems.
The acquisitions also include Israeli missiles and precision-guided munitions, from Python and Derby air-to-air missiles to Crystal Maze and Spice-2000 bombs. The Spice-2000 penetration bombs, in fact, were used by Indian Mirage-2000s fighters to bomb the JeM facility at Balakot in Pakistan in February last year.
The armed forces are also now inducting the next-generation Barak-8 surface-to-air missile systems under three joint DRDO-Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) projects worth over Rs 30,000 crore.
India is also now finalizing `Project Cheetah’ to arm the Heron drones with laser-guided bombs, air-to-ground anti-tank missiles and other precision-guided munitions as well as advanced reconnaissance capabilities with Israel’s help for around Rs 3,500-crore, as was reported by TOI.