India wants license to produce Iron Dome - report

"Defense News": Israel is uncertain whether to let India have the technology to produce the rocket interception system.

Israel and India are discussing cooperating in the development of weapons systems. "Defense News" reports from New Delhi that one of the aspects of this trend is India's wish to procure and manufacture the Iron Dome system against short-range missiles.

During a visit to India last week, Ministry of Defense director general Udi Shani discussed with India's Defense Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma the progress of current defense projects by the two countries and plans for potential projects. "Defense News" said that Israeli diplomats in India and Israeli government officials and defense industry sources declined to comment on the report.

The discussions on the Iron Dome system focused on India's wish to procure it on a "buy and build" basis; in other words, to procure the Iron Dome and obtain a license from Israel to manufacture it. An Indian source said that Israel had agreed to sell the system to India, but was hesitant about selling to India the technology needed to manufacture it. The report did not say whether the US would agree to the proposed deal.

Current Israeli-Indian projects include development of a medium-range ballistic missile and development of a long-range ballistic missile at a combined cost of $2 billion. The two countries are also developing a ground-to-ground missile. India media reports say that this is a program of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), but that, in practice, Israel is a partner through three companies: Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1), its subsidiary Elta Sytems Ltd., and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., according to sources quoted by "Defense News". Shani and Sharma discussed extending the range of this missile from 1,000 kilometers to 3,000 kilometers.

The list of future projects discussed included a plan to develop aircraft-launched micro-satellites, and plans to develop laser-guided missiles and munitions. According to an Israeli defense source, other possible plans include specialized radar systems, such as an airborne system for Indian-made light combat planes, and a long-range system for tracking ballistic missiles. At this stage, it is not known whether the parties reached a final agreement during Shani's visit about which projects will go ahead.

Shani and Sharma also discusses delays in the joint project to develop a long-range naval missile to protect India Navy ships from aerial attack. The $600 million project, begun in 2005, is still in the testing stage, even though it was supposed to be ready by mid-2012. IAI is the Israeli contractor in this project. The missile was tested in Israel in July. Sources said that the missile would probably be operational in mid-2014.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 12, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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