By Usman Ali Khan*
Since coming to power on May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has concerted efforts to infuse a new momentum in Indo-Israel relations.
India’s relation with Israel dates back to 1950’s, when India first recognized Israel. Since then Israel has laid down a red carpet to compartmentalize their relations. Fast forwarding to 1992, there has been a steady strengthening of bilateral ties between both states, adding that there exists a room for rapid growth and potential for their relation to bloom. Full diplomatic relations with Israel have reached to a newer height from economic to social and security level, making India one of the largest trading partner in defense as well.
Under Prime Minister Modi, Israel defense ties with India have been regarded as close and expected to get even closer. Their relation is based on intensifying contacts in the fields of not only agriculture, but also science and technology, cyber and defense.
What changed the dynamics of their relation was the Kargil crisis of 1999, where India received unprompted supplies of arms, ammunition and military support making Israel the biggest arms supplier to India, keeping their nuclear relationships under the conundrum.
Keeping in mind the unfolding developments in the region, unfortunately, the most domineering thing that is happening in the Asian region is instability. The strength of Indo-Israel growing defense partnership pertains importantly from a period of 2004 to 2014, where there has been a massive flow of military equipment from Israel to India, which is threatening peace and stability in the region.
India also opted to buy an estimated amount of 8,000 Israel’s Spike anti-guided missile with more than 300 launchers, denying U.S. offer of Javelin missiles that Washington had lobbied hard to win. These perks are significant in escalating the arms procurement in the subcontinent. In 2006, a five-year contract, amounting to $480 million was concluded between Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Indian Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO).
Following the delayed deal of Barak missile which was developed jointly was a boost to India’s maritime anti-air warfare capabilities. Not only both states have maintained, but also enhanced cooperation while encompassing production of small arms. Nonetheless, if one looks closely, other technologies including surface-to-air missile, Delilah II, Popeye beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, Pechora III, and crystal maze bond are also on the export list of Israel to India.
More interestingly, military relations between the two are fervently speculated as an unfinished agenda. For example, Israeli defense minister visited India back in 2015, boosting their arms venture which was between Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and India’s Kalyani Group. Where, India already has invested $143 million to purchase Barak 1.
Sale of Falcon AWACS
India is also said to be considering to purchase Israel-made Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) surveillance aircraft. AWACS surveillance aircraft can simultaneously track flying objects within a radius of 800km and has a look down capacity to monitor movements on the ground and/or sea.
Given the huge and developing level of cooperation between the two nations, Indian Special Forces (ISF) are also getting training from Israel, which are then deployed in the troubled region of Kashmir.
In fact, the transformational shift in Indian policy for developing more cordial relations with Israel is to endeavor its military modernization and replacing aged Russian hardware. But the likely prognosis that will arise is the effect of aforesaid new trends in the region for acquiring more arms and lesser peace initiatives.
This monumental regional realignment necessitates that India needs to understand the correct definition of business target rather than an arms procurement target. The emerging nexus call for the seriousness of Pakistan as to understand the gravity of the situation and emerging security constraints to their sovereignty and survival. India had always been taking cover of the anti-Pakistan power blocks and stockpiling its already un-proportionate armada to sky limits so as to maintain a credible threat constantly looming over the security of Pakistan.
Indeed, this upswing in relation envisioned towards regional security which obligates important questions like: Where is this bilateral bonhomie heading? What will be the implications of their immense defense and arms procurement? This will alter the more promising situation of balance of power in South Asia and in larger Asian region which already is in a state of flux. Keeping in mind the undergoing changes, this bilateral relationship needs to be watched carefully as it is hosting threats and challenges like fueling arms race in the region.
*Usman Ali Khan, Graduated in Defence and Strategic Studies. Freelance writer and blogger
This article was published at Modern Diplomacy