Ahead of the likely visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in June, India has approved a deal to jointly develop a medium range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) system for the Army in a ₹17,000-crore deal.

This is the latest in a series of other variants of SAM systems for the Navy and the Air Force being jointly developed with Israeli help under deals estimated at billions of dollars.

  1. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Mr. Modi, at a meeting, gave the go-ahead for the deal to be executed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI).
  2. The deal is for 200 missiles for five regiments, each getting 40 units. The missile has a range of 50-70 km.
  3. The system will be based on the older Barak system of Israel, which is in use in India. It is being changed as per requirements.
  4. The systems will be manufactured in India and would have an 80% indigenous content.
  5. The DRDO would play a crucial role in developing the target homing system. Deliveries would begin in 2023.
  6. The two countries are also in an advanced stage of negotiations for the purchase of two more long-range Phalcon Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS)
  7. The CCS had approved the deal for additional AWACS last year that is expected to cost ₹7,500 crore.
  8. India now operates three Phalcon AWACS with Israeli radars mounted on Russian IL-76 transport aircraft, under a $1-billion tripartite deal with Russia, signed in 2003.
  9. Russian officials said at the recent Aero India that India had ordered two IL-76 aircraft to be converted to AWACS.
  10. They were hopeful of a deal during Mr. Modi’s visit, and added that discussions were on for additional long-range drones.
  11. India and Israel have stepped up their defence relations since Mr. Modi came to power.