TEL AVIV — Israel's top two state-owned firms are flagging strengthened ties to the Indian market, with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) reporting "hundreds of millions of dollars" in deals during the past quarter while Rafael is establishing a joint venture with one of India's largest conglomerates.
In remarks Wednesday at the Indian Defexpo 2016 trade show in Goa, India, IAI President and CEO Yossi Weiss cited the firm's 25 years of activities in the Indian market in support of Indian government customers.
He noted that IAI executives met with dozens of top Indian officials and partners during this week's event, and that IAI has registered "hundreds of millions of dollars" in sales spanning UAV, air defense, radar and naval warfare sectors.
"The deals that were signed in the last months are a manifestation of the central and prominent partnership between India and IAI," Weiss said, according to a statement released by his firm.
On Tuesday, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Reliance Defence Ltd. announced an agreement to establish a joint venture (JV) company in India aimed at securing up to $10 billion over the coming decade across air-to-air missiles, air defense and aerostat sectors.
According to the March 29 statement, Rafael will have 49 percent of the new venture with Reliance Defence, a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd., claiming 51 percent, as per Indian government guidelines.
In their joint announcement, both companies said the agreement represents "one of the biggest joint ventures between an Indian company and any OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer]." The JV would be located at the Dhirubhai Ambani Land Systems Park in Pithampur, Indore, India, and will generate more than 2,000 high-skilled jobs.
The firms' estimated capital outlays to launch the JV is $195 million, including the value of technology.
India continues to be Israel's top export market, with annual Israeli defense sales to India averaging some $3 billion for the past several years.
In parallel, bilateral military-to-military cooperation is intensifying, with India ranking in the second tier of nations with whom the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has ongoing and intimate relations.
Brig. Gen. Avi Peled, head of the International Military Cooperation Division of the IDF's Planning Directorate of the IDF Genera Staff, said India is among a handful of high-priority nations with whom his division intends to strengthen and solidify ties during 2016.
According to Peled, a former defense attache to New Delhi, the second tier of high-priority countries falls under the United States, which is in a distinct, top-ranked category unto itself.
"That second circle of India, some countries in NATO, and our immediate neighbors and peace partners (Egypt and Jordan), is something we aim to work much more closely with throughout the year," Peled said.