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By ARIE EGOZI
Has Israel been losing its foothold in the Indian defence establishment? Experts in Israel are sure that this is the situation and that it is a reason for big concern.
On October 15 India and Russia signed billions of dollars’ worth of military and energy deals at a summit meeting that sought to inject new life into a relationship that has been tested by shifting global alliances and conflict in the Middle East.
According to the new agreement, the countries, which had strong ties during the Cold War, announced plans for a joint venture to build helicopters in India. New Delhi said it would also buy surface-to-air missile systems and stealth frigates from Moscow.
“Ours is a truly unique and privileged relationship,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said after talks with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in the western seaside state of Goa.
Mr. Modi said his views were aligned with Mr. Putin’s on the unstable situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East, where Moscow is at odds with the West in the five-year-old civil war in Syria that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
The military pacts will also deepen military ties between the two countries that date back to the Soviet era, when India depended on Moscow to equip its armed forces. The United States has since taken over as India’s top arms supplier.
Indian military officials have said the plan is for the joint venture to build at least 200 Kamov 226T helicopters. Hindustan Aeronautics will be the local partner of Russian Helicopters and the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.
In addition India has signed more contracts, one for the purchase of $5 billion worth S-400 Triumf anti aircraft weapon system. Russia will start supplying advanced anti-aircraft defense system S-400 Triumph from 2020 to India.
The S-400 surface-to-air missiles would strengthen India’s defenses along its borders with China and Pakistan. Also agreed were plans to build and supply stealth frigates for the Indian navy.
As mentioned before, India has also announced that it will collaborate in setting up a joint production facility for making Kamov helicopters. Under a nearly $1 billion deal, India will replace the country’s aging Cheetah and Chetak choppers with Kamov 226t helicopter. The plan is to build at least 200 such helicopters. Hindustan Aeronautics will be the local partner of Russian Helicopters as well as state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.
Another important deal was also signed for four Admiral Grigorovich-class guided-missile stealth frigates, according to which two vessels will be purchased from Russia, while the remaining two will be constructed in India with Russian collaboration.
In recent years India has been a very big market for the Israeli defence industries. But in the last two years the U.S and now Russia have stepped in “by brute force”, as one source in the Israeli defence establishment told .
The source said that changing conditions in the balance of power in the world have affected the situation in everything that is connected to the Indian defence market.
“Israel should adapt to the new situation, but so far very little has been done.”