2 AWACS, Air-to-Air Missiles on agenda for Netanyahu visit to India

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to visit India for a day two weeks from now. On the agenda are the acquisition of two more Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) and extended range air to air Derby missiles by the Indian Air Force and joint projects in agriculture, water and waste management.

Top diplomats based in New Delhi and Tel Aviv said on condition of anonymity that an advanced security liaison team from Israel will land in Delhi on September 2 to prepare ground for the prime ministerial visit. While the exact date has not been decided, Netanyahu is expected to meet his friend Prime Minister Narendra Modi either on September 7 or 8.

Arriving in India a week before the September 17 general elections in Israel, Netanyahu is expected to endorse Modi government’s scrapping of articles 370 and 35 A in Kashmir as an internal matter and support the bilateral resolution of issues between India and Pakistan, the diplomats said.

Although the two allies typically play down the defence content of the across-the-spectrum relationship, India plans to order two PHALCON AWACS mounted on Russian A-50 platform (worth $ 2 billion) for better control of the war theatre .

The order is awaiting a green signal from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

While India has five AWACS platforms, Pakistan already has seven such with another three on order from China. Islamabad already has three SAAB Erieye and four ZDK-03 from China, which were deployed 24X7 after the Balakot airstrike by the Indian Air Force on a terrorist facility in Pakistan. Given this differential, IAF deployed AWACS for only 12 hours a day.

The IAF is also looking towards the acquisition of extended range Derby air to air missiles from Israel after Pakistan used 70 km AIM-120 C 100 kilometre beyond visual range missiles against Indian jets in its February 27 retaliation to the Balakot strike.

IAF wants to integrate the 70-kilometre range Derby missiles on the Su-30 MKI platform with upgraded radar equipped with data link to take the fight to Pakistani F-16s in future.

India and Israel are jointly developing the short, medium and long-range surface to air missiles in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

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