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Next Navy chief goes to Israel to signal smooth bilateral sailing
The Left may express its reservations over New Delhi’s relations with Israel but the UPA government wants to continue India’s defence cooperation. So the government has quietly sent Navy Chief designate Vice Admiral Arun Prakash to Tel Aviv to allay Israeli apprehensions. Admiral Prakash follows Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt General Shantano Choudhary who visited the country in June.

‘‘We have developed defence cooperation with several countries and we are not making any distinction between country A and country B. We have defence cooperation with Israel like with many other countries and if any deals for import of high-tech have been finalised, those will carry on,’’ Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told The Sunday Express. ‘‘I cannot say what we will require in future from them. But in general terms, I can say that (it’s) a country with which we have defence cooperation, that will continue.’’

But is he bothered about pressure from the ruling alliance’s biggest support group, the Left? ‘‘Let me clarify that nobody from the Left parties has spoken to me about this issue. In a multi-party system, there may be differences of opinion, but the business of governance goes on,’’ he said.

Admiral Prakash, who takes over as Navy Chief on August 1, is on a three-day official visit beginning Sunday. He will interact with his Israeli counterpart and visit naval establishments. The Indian Navy’s guided missile destroyers, INS Godavari and Mysore, docked at Haifa on May 23, a day after Manmohan Singh government was sworn in.

General Choudhary, who was in Israel from June 19-22, was shown the counter-infiltration devices at the Golan Heights and Negev desert. The Vice Chief also witnessed demonstration of Soltam 155 mm Howitzers while in Israel. Soltam, which is one of the three contenders for the Rs 5,000-crore deal for purchase and transfer-of-technology of 1,000 Howitzer guns, is coming to India in September to do a field trial at the Pokharan ranges. The Army evaluation trials of Soltam, Swedish SGS (formerly called Bofors) and South African Denel howitzers will begin in November.

When Gen Choudhary was in Israel, Defence Minister Mukherjee said that there would be no change in the existing defence ties with either US or Israel unless there was any adversity with the particular country. Mukherjee’s statement came after the Israelis expressed their concern over the pace of the bilateral relationship in the context of the UPA government’s emphasis on the Palestinian issue.

Even though the Left parties are for a course correction in the Indo-Israeli defence cooperation, the government knows the armed forces are largely dependent on the Israeli hardware for enhancing their precision capabilities. Tel Aviv had helped New Delhi with precision capability during Kargil as well as Operation Parakram. In fact, when New Delhi was preparing for a limited strike in June 2002 against Pakistan, Israeli Director General, Defence Ministry, Amos Yaron flew to India and subsequently ensured hardware supplies through special planes.

CPI(M)’s Nilotpal Basu told The Sunday Express that his party was not opposed to ‘‘state-to-state’’ relationship with Israel but wanted the government to place more emphasis on the Palestinian issue. ‘‘We do not want to elaborate on the defence ties... but we are not opposed to any business relationship with Tel Aviv... we are against Israelis persecuting the Palestinian people in the name of fighting international terrorism,’’ the Rajya Sabha member said.

But with the US still reluctant to pass on its sophisticated hardware to India and Russia lagging behind in producing state-of-the-art defence systems, New Delhi has no options but to look towards Tel Aviv.

WHY NEW DELHI NEEDS TEL AVIV

Almost all of India’s hi-tech defence systems come from Israel. Here’s what tops the list:

STRATEGIC SYSTEMS

Almost all of India’s hi-tech defence systems come from Israel. Here’s what tops the list:

• ARROW MISSILES

Tel Aviv passed on the Green Pine radar, core of the Arrow-2 missile system, in 2002. Now, it wants India to invest in the anti-ballistic system’s development

• PHALCON AWACS

India is buying three PHALCON systems to be mounted on Russian IL-76 aircraft.

ARMY

• Arjuna Main Battle Tank development

• Heron/ Searcher II Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

• Thermal Imaging Stand Alone system (T-72S tanks)

• Thermal Imager Fire Control system (T-72S tanks)

• Mi-35 attack helicopters upgrade

AIR FORCE

• Helmet mounted sights/ digital map generations for Jaguars, MiG-27

• Delilah II bombs

• Crystal maze bombs

• Harpy hard radar kill missile

• Pechora III surface-to-air missile

• Pop-Eye beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile

NAVY

• Self-protection jammers for Sea Harriers

• Seven Barak anti-missile systems

• Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

• Fast attack patrol crafts




Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 9:01 AM

 

 
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