India and Israel are all set to finalise a government-to-government deal for purchase of 4500 Spike Anti Tank Guided Missiles worth 500 million USD. According to a report in Hindustan Times, the deal is set to be sealed ahead of Israeli defence secretary Udi Adam’s visit to Delhi on July 2nd.
As per the report, officials from both the countries are waiting for final approval from the Indian government. The Spike ATGM deal between India and Israel has been on the table for months. The initial proposal was to procure 8000 ATGMs from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Systems for the Army. From the 8000 missiles, according to the initial proposal, 3000 ATGMs were to be manufactured in India under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. However, the proposal could not be negotiated to finalisation and on November 2017, India’s defence ministry had declared that it had decided to scrap the deal.
Indian defence ministry then reportedly asked India’s premier defence research organisation DRDO to produce Anti Tank Guided Missiles. According to some reports, India considered going ahead with the Israeli deal because DRDO was expected to take a minimum of 3 years to produce 3rd generation ATGMs.
Indian government reportedly aims to arm all of its 382 infantry battalions 44 mechanised infantry units with the 3rd gen ATGMs. The deal was one of the key agendas of Israeli PM’s meeting with PM Narendra Modi during his visit in January 2018. After Netanyahu returned from India, he had declared that the deal is back on the table. The Indian government had reportedly insisted on the deal being on a government-to-government basis.
PM Netanyahu: “Following the talks I had with my friend Prime Minister @NarendraModi, the Indian government has informed us that it is putting the Spike deal back on track. This is very important and there will be many more deals.”https://t.co/rY9ocD5pys
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) January 17, 2018
However, under the fresh deal, India will directly purchase 4500 missiles and a percentage of the missiles will be manufactured in Hyderabad.
The Spike ATGM deal is considered to be one of the most important deals for Rafael Defence Systems and Israel. Following DRDO’s testing of its own indigenously developed NAG- 190 ATGMs in desert conditions this year, speculations were rife in Israeli media over the possibility of India scrapping the deal and going ahead with its own ATGMs. However, the fact that DRDO’s missiles were expected to take some years to be operational and Spikes were ready to be used considering Indian army’s immediate need, the deal went ahead. It is notable here that Rafael’s CEO Yoav Har-Even was also a part of the delegation that came with PM Netanyahu to India.
India is the lead purchaser of Israel’s weapons. The bilateral trade between the two countries had reached approximately 4.5 billion USD in 2016. According to estimates, India alone accounts for 41% of Israel’s defence exports.