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The Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ push was clearly visible at the 14th Aero India exhibition, which ran from 13-17 February in Yelahanka, Bangalore, with most Indian defence manufacturers signing agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with foreign vendors. Israel, in particular, a world leader in air defence systems, signed agreements with several Indian partners in relation to radar and missile systems.

An MoU between India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited HAL) and Israel’s Elta Systems Limited was signed at the show in relation to co-operation on a maritime patrol radar (MPR) for Indian platforms. Elta CEO Yoav Touregman stated, “The name of this MPR is ‘2022’ and this is already in use in the Israeli armed forces. It is an advanced radar.”

A simpler version of this MPR is already used on India’s indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), while the newer version comes with target recognition and other enhanced capabilities.

India’s state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) also signed an MoU relating to the domestic manufacture and supply of IAI’s LORA long-range missile system for the Indian armed forces. BEL will be the prime contractor for the weapon based on a workshare arrangement with IAI. The MoU is an outcome of the growing partnership between India and Israel in the field of high-technology strategic defence systems and is in line with the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative in relation to major weapon systems.

Developed by IAI’s MALAM division, LORA is a ship- and ground-launched ballistic missile comprising a unique launcher, a command-and-control system, and a ground and marine support system. The LORA system provides ballistic assault capabilities, at supersonic speed, for ranges up to 400 km with a circular error probable (CEP) of 10 m and can perform evasive manoeuvres that are programmed to mitigate interception and tracking. IAI will be the technology partner for LORA, while BEL will be the production partner.

The Indian Army has also shown interest in a fire control radar (FCR) made by Elta, with Indian private defence manufacturer Larsen and Toubro (L&T) in the advanced stages of signing an agreement with Elta for the system. Elta’s Touregman said at Aero India 2023, “The FCR is not just fire control, but beyond. This is already operational in Israel. L&T is the prime contractor for this.”

Meanwhile, other Israeli firms signed a number of agreements with Indian companies:

  • IAI signed an MoU with Sagar Defence Engineering Private Limited (SDEPL) for collaboration on the IDEX Challenge ‘Autonomous Weaponized Boat Swarm’ for the Indian Navy;
  • Elbit Systems and Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd signed an MoU to establish a joint venture company;
  • Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and Rangsons Aerospace Pvt Ltd have agreed to jointly develop an airborne surveillance and reconnaissance pod;

Elbit Systems’ Elisra entered into a workshare agreement with BEL for the testing, integration and commissioning of an instrumented electronic warfare range for the Indian Air Force, in which BEL will be the prime contractor and Elbit will be the principal subcontractor.

Suman Sharma