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Israel moves up Delhi ladder

New Delhi, Sept. 9: Representatives of Israel’s military industrial complex accompanying Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today began talks with senior functionaries in the ministry of defence and took the pale of military ties beyond hyped big ticket deals in the pipeline such as the Phalcons and worked on supplying sophisticated hardware.

Israel can emerge second to Russia in supplying military equipment to India, but it is second by a long margin. About 70 per cent of Indian military hardware is sourced from Russia or from the former USSR countries. But India is Israel’s largest buyer of military equipment. Israel packages its military trade with India into its diplomatic ties.

Major General Amos Yaron, director-general in the Israeli ministry of defence, Colonel Yoash Rubin and Colonel Moshe Kravitz met the air force chief, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, V.K. Atre, scientific adviser to the defence minister, M. Natarajan and K.V.S.S. Prasad Rao, chief controllers of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, today.

Tomorrow, the Israeli team is slated to meet defence minister George Fernandes, defence secretary Ajay Prasad, defence production secretary Uma Pillai, navy chief Admiral Madhvendhra Singh and the vice-chief of the army, Lt Gen. Shantonu Choudhury. Fernandes is also expected to meet Sharon after the official-level meetings.

Apart from the better-known equipment that are in different stages of negotiation — such as the Phalcon AWACs systems, Green Pine Radar and Arrow anti-missile missile — the Israeli officials were understood to be in talks on four other areas.

In the operational sphere, talks are being held on the possible training of at least four Indian army battalions — more than 300 troops — in counter-insurgency operations on weaponry sourced from Israel. These talks have been on for some time but both sides keep them firmly under wraps. An Indian team is understood to have visited Israel.

In the supplies and installation area, the Israelis have sounded out the Indian side on the use of Electronic Support Measures (ESM). In this, they are in competition with at least one European major. ESM equipment can be described as electronic counter-measures with capability of target acquisition. India is interested in using and reinforcing electronic counter-measures in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Israeli and Indian sides are also believed to be talking on Electronic Counter Counter measures (ECCM) and ECCM for Awacs. ECCM equipment are needed to target an enemy’s ESM. Installation and use of ESM and ECCM call for training of Indian staff by the Israelis.

In talks with the air chief, the meeting summed up the progress recorded on the procuring of the Phalcon AWACs.

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