Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning another visit to India to further strengthen its defence ties. As per the initial media reports, Netanyahu could plan an official trip in the second week of February with arms deal dominating the agenda between two countries. Interestingly, Netanyahu became just the second Israeli prime minister to visit India a year ago, after Ariel Sharon who had visited way back in 2003.
Recently, the Isreali National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat visited India and paid a visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Moreover, Netanyahu also called Modi over the telephone to plan a second meeting. India has shown its interest in the additional security deal with the Israeli arms industry.
Apart from meeting Prime Minister Modi, Ben-Shabbat also met Ajit Doval, director general of the defence ministry and national security adviser and chiefs of tri-services. Stating the meeting with Ben-Shabbat a healthy development between two nations, the Prime Minister's Bureau said that the meeting witnessed "discussions regarding relations between the two countries, promoting security deals, as well as agreements on additional actions to promote security, technological and socio-economical cooperation between Israel and India."
Israel is one of the largest sources of defence equipment for India. Arms trade between the two nations is expected to reach over $6 billion in the coming years. Israel won the largest defence contract in its history from India last year to supply Indian Army and Navy with missile defence systems, a deal worth USD 2 billion. In the recent times, India has purchased Barak I missiles, 3 phalcon AWACS, and Israeli spike anti-tank missiles from Israel. Moreover, Israel is developing Barak 8 missile for Indian Navy and Air force and also plans to purchase 2 more phalcon AWACS are in progress.
Notably, during his last visit to India, Netanyahu had signed a deal to provide India, anti-tank Spike missiles from the Rafael company. As per the data available with the security export wing of the Defence Ministry of Israel for the year 2017, 58 per cent of Israeli arms exports goes out to Asian and Pacific countries in which India was a major buyer of these arms.
On January 29, the two countries celebrated 27 years of diplomatic relations. Ever since the two nations established diplomatic ties in 1992 there has cooperation in areas including defence and homeland security, to agriculture and water management, and now education and even outer space.