The Buzz

India Could Become a Military Powerhouse Thanks to Russia and Israel

The overlap between the Indo-Israeli deal and the Pakistani antiship test was almost certainly coincidental. Instead, the timing of the former is likely to tied to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to India. Although exact dates have yet to be officially announced, Netanyahu is expected to visit India from January 15 to January 19. His trip—which will be the first by an Israeli prime minister in fifteen years—comes after Indian prime minister Narendra Modi visited Israel in July of last year. Modi’s trip was the first by an Indian prime minister in Israel’s history.

The reciprocal trips are indicative of the growing ties between Israel and India. During the Cold War, Delhi tried to keep the Jewish state at arm’s length to avoid inflaming Muslim countries, given its ongoing rivalry with Pakistan. The two countries established diplomatic ties for the first time in the 1990s, and cooperation has steadily grown since. The relationship has taken off in earnest since Modi became prime minister in 2014. Although the two countries cooperate across a broad ranges of areas, defense cooperation is especially important to the relationship. According to various media reports, India now purchases $1 billion of arms from Israel every year, making Israel India’s third-largest defense supplier. According to some sources, India is now the largest export market for Israeli arms.

Israel has made a concerted effort to boost Modi’s signature “Made in India” initiative by forming joint ventures with Indian defense firms, including manufacturing drones and missile-defense systems. Included in the latter category is the joint development of the Barak-8, a seaborne long-range air-defense missile. The first of the Barak-8 missiles was delivered to India in the summer of last year. The news has not all been good, however, as India announced this week that it was cancelling a $500 million contract with Israel for 1,600 Spike antitank guided missiles.

Zachary Keck (@ZacharyKeck) is a former managing editor of the National Interest.

Image: Wikimedia Commons / Alan Wilson