NEW DELHI — India and Israel are discussing broader cooperation in joint weapon development, with India also seeking to purchase and produce the Iron Dome short-range surface-to-air missile defense system.
Indian Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and the visiting director general of Israel’s Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. Udi Shani, discussed the pace of weapon projects being developed jointly and possible new programs during talks on Dec. 3-4.
Israeli diplomats in India and Israeli government and industry officials declined to comment on the issue.
Apart from ongoing medium-range and long-range ballistic missile programs, which cost a combined $2 billion, the two countries are building a variety of missiles, including a ground-to-ground land attack missile. That missile is publicly described as a project of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), but it is actually a joint effort with Israel, according to sources.
Increasing the range of the land attack missile from 1,000 to 3,000 kilometers also was discussed, the source added.
The list of future projects discussed included microsatellite systems that can be launched from aircraft, laser-guided missiles and precision-guided munitions. Other projects could include specialized radars, such as an airborne surveillance radar for India’s homegrown Light Combat Aircraft, and a long-range tracking surveillance radar for ballistic missile systems, an Indian Defence Ministry source said.
It is not known if the two sides finalized an agreement to jointly work on these projects during the meeting.
DRDO is developing the land attack missile in technical collaboration with three Israeli companies: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Elta and Rafael.
DRDO laboratories working on the project include the Defence Research and Development Laboratory, the Research Centre IMARAT and Aerospace Systems, Hyderabad; Defence Avionics Research Establishment, Bangalore; and the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment and Naval Physical Oceanographic Laboratory, both of Kochi.
Iron Dome discussions have revolved around India’s desire to acquire the system under what it calls a “buy-and-make” basis, meaning it would purchase the system, but also get a license from Israel to produce it.
The Indian source said that while Israel has agreed to sell Iron Dome, it has hesitated to part with the technology and allow India to produce it.
The delay in the Indo-Israeli long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) air defense project for warships also was discussed. The $600 million project, launched in 2005 to arm Indian warships, is still in the trial stages, although it was scheduled for induction by mid-2012.
Being developed by DRDO and IAI, the LRSAM has a range of 70 kilometers. The missile was tested in July in Israel.
Seeker and guidance tests are planned for this month, and the validation and user trials will be take place next year. The missile is expected to be ready for induction in 2014, sources said.