Deepening bilateral defence cooperation further, Israel is understood to have offered to develop the next generation Barak-II ship defence missiles jointly with India. Defence Ministry sources said Tel Aviv conveyed the offer to Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash when he visited Israel this July, and the issue was discussed during the Naval Commanders’ Conference last week.
Indian Navy procured seven Barak-I missile systems worth Rs 800 crore from Israel last year. The new multi-million dollar joint venture proposal is for the development of a 70-km-range Barak-II missile with Navy and the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).
The Barak-I can detect a target at a range of 12 kilometers.
The offer — which was first put on the table by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) — is now being considered by the Defence Ministry. Both DRDO and officials at the Israel Embassy’s defence department declined to comment.
The ship-borne Barak is made to intercept and destroy approaching anti-ship missiles. The system is built to automatically trigger the Barak from a Rafael-made vertical launch assembly when the radar detects an anti-ship supersonic missile at a height, and sea-skimming missile at a low altitude.
The Barak’s fire control system made by Elbit can automatically lock onto two incoming missiles at the same time.
The Barak’s defence is capable of intercepting targets not less than 500 metres away. Its Rafael-made warhead makes up a substantial 22 per cent of the missile’s almost 100 kg weight, bestowing it with a wider kill envelope.
The Navy’s INS Viraat aircraft carrier, three Delhi-class destroyers and three Talwar-class frigates are currently equipped with the Barak-I missiles which India bought in 2003.
A view currently persists that the Indian Navy is not equipped with ship-based aircraft tracking equipment that would justify a 70-km range missile, though long-range tracking technology is being looked at as a possible technology spin-off if India decides to sign on the dotted line with Israel.