A Hello to Arms
Israel and India Reach Historic Weapons Deal

The budding friendship between Israel and India just got $2 billion bigger. NDTV:

India has signed a weapons deal with Israel for nearly $2 billion in what’s being described as the “largest defence contract” ever signed by the military exporting giant.

The deal will provide India with an advanced defence system of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology, the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries said in a statement yesterday.

The “mega” missile agreement is “considered to be the largest defense contract in Israel’s defense industries’ history”, the company said, stressing that some components will be assembled in India, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to reduce reliance on costly imports.

The deal here makes a lot of sense for both sides. India has been pursuing closer ties with Israel ever since Modi took office, in part because of the simple transactional calculation that India desperately needs new weapons and Israel has them. It’s a natural relationship: the Indians are seeking to upgrade their missile capabilities along the Pakistani border, and the Israelis have quite a bit of technological expertise in that regard. Israel’s willingness to play along with Modi’s “Made in India” initiative only sweetens the deal.

The relationship goes deeper, though: Buying from Israel helps India diversify away from traditional suppliers like Russia and the United States, aiding Modi’s delicate balancing act as he tries to avoid over-dependence on any one power. And for the Israelis, tightening ties with New Delhi has already paid off elsewhere, with India becoming more openly supportive of Israel and less inclined to censure it in international bodies.

Modi is planning to visit Israel in July; whatever comes of that summit, he has already made the Israelis quite happy.

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