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The Israeli defense industries have been actively participating in the Make in India initiative launched in 2014 and in other initiatives many years before. Towards the forthcoming visit to India of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, scheduled to start on January 14th, it is worth overviewing the various aspects of this technological partnership, characterized during recent years in a growing demand by India to expand technology transfer and manufacturing.
Meanwhile, on the eve of the visit, India has canceled the purchase of 8000 Spike anti-tank missiles from Rafael and more than 300 missile launchers, technologies and a program to establish local manufacturing installations, a half a billion dollar deal. According to reports from India, the move was driven by the fear that the purchase would undermine the local development of a mobile anti-tank missile system. In India, it is evaluated that the capability to manufacture anti-tank missiles that can compete with the Rafael’s Spike would be achieved within three or four years, according to haaretz.co.il. At the same time, Indian media said that the country’s Defense Ministry will purchase 131 surface-to-air missiles from Israel for $70 million. According to reports, India will purchase Rafael’s Barak missiles.
Cooperation between the governments over the years included, according to jpost.com, the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F), the India-Israel CEO forum, the India-Israel Innovation Bridge online platform to encourage and facilitate collaboration between Israeli and Indian startups; the Indo-Israeli Agriculture Project; MoUs (memorandums of understanding) between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA); and MoUs on India-Israel water cooperation.
Israeli defense players have formed a number of joint ventures (JVs) with Indian partners. Elbit group has formed a number of joint ventures with Indian companies, such as
Adani-Elbit Advanced Systems India Ltd, a JV to manufacture UAVs in India.
Another joint venture dating from 2004 between Elbit Security Systems and Alpha Design Technologies was recently renewed.
In early 2017, IAI inked a MoU with Kalyani Strategic Systems to develop, build and market selected air defense systems and lightweight special purpose munitions. IAI has also entered into a cooperation agreement with Dynamatic Technologies and Elcom Systems for the production/assembly and maintenance work of mini-UAVs in India.
IAI’s Golan Industries Division signed a MoU with Taneja Aerospace & Aviation Ltd. (TAAL) to cooperate in the development, production, marketing and sale of civil and military aircraft seats. In 2016, IAI signed a MoU with Premier Explosives Ltd. and a strategic alliance with Wipro Infrastructure Engineering (WIN) to manufacture composite aerostructure parts and assemblies.
Last month, India’s Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division (Tata Power SED) partnered with DSIT Solutions of Israel to supply portable diver detection sonar (PDDS) to the Indian Navy. Tata Advanced Systems and ELTA Systems of Israel have formed a JV called HELA Systems.
India’s Mahindra group has also formed JVs with Israeli defense partners, including Cyclone, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, and Shachaf Engineering. Both will jointly develop strategic electronics subassemblies and systems for aerospace, marine and automotive applications.
Within the framework of India’s smart border management initiative, India’s Dynamatic Technologies Ltd partnered with Magal Security Systems of Israel in 2017.
A JV signed in 2015 between Kalyani Strategic Systems, a defense arm of Kalyani group, and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, which led to investment in technologies to develop missile, command and control systems, guidance systems, electro-optics, remote weapon systems, precision-guided munitions and more.
Rafael has also signed an agreement with Astra Microwave Products Ltd to build tactical radio communication systems, electronic warfare systems and signal intelligence systems.
India’s Punj Lloyd and Israel’s IWI (Israel Weapon Industries Ltd.) have set up the first private sector small arms manufacturing plant for both local and export use.
The Barak 8 (LR-SAM or MR-SAM) is the product of the joint efforts of IAI, India’s Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO), MAFAT (a joint administrative body of the Israeli Defense Ministry and IDF), Rafael, and Bharat Dynamics Ltd.
During the past three years, the Indian government has launched wide-ranging plans for military modernization, police force modernization and border management and these initiatives offer great opportunities for defense and security startups/SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) collaboration.
In 2015, India launched its Digital Army program. Already in 2004, Elbit Systems signed an agreement with the Defense Ministry for the Digital Army Program (DAP) for a period of 10 years (2004- 2014). Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd. and Tadiran Systems Ltd partnered with Elbit Systems for DAP. In 2014, the IDF concluded the deployment of the Tzayad (Digital Land Army) system in all of its field formations and now they are working to build the next generation of the Israeli army’s digital C4I network.
Cybersecurity is another aspect in which Israel can cooperate. Last year, India surpassed the US in the total number of people online, second only to China, and cyber threats are increasing. In a joint statement issued during Prime Minister Modi’s Israel visit, both sides asserted their desire to institutionalize cooperation on cyber issues through a joint framework.