Israeli Exhibit Among Largest at Show
By Wendell Minnick
BANGALORE - Israeli defense companies made a strong showing at Aero India 2009, rivaling the adjacent Russian Pavilion in size and shape. Russia has been the predominant arms dealer for India going back to the Cold War, but the Israelis are clearly making an impression.
And for good reason: since the fall of the Soviet Union, Israel and India have been working closely on a variety of defense programs and a large part of them have been piggy-packed on old Russian systems. In the 1990s, Elta won a multi-million dollar contract to upgrade the avionics on India's MiG-21 fighters.
In 2004, India ordered three Phalcon Airborne Early Warning radar systems from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), equipped on Russian-built Ilyushin II-76 aircraft. Israel has also sold IAI Malat-built Searcher MkII and IAI Heron UAV's to India's air force, and the IAI recently upgraded 32 Hind Mi-24 helicopters for the Indian army.
Rafael, Elbit Systems and IAI were the dominant booths at the Israel National Pavilion.
Rafael demonstrated a variety of new and old weapon systems, including the mobile Iron Dome defense system against short-range artillery rockets for the Indian market, said Joseph Horowitz, Rafael business development and marketing director, Air and Missiles Defense Systems. The Iron Dome radar detects and identifies the rocket or artillery shell launch and monitors its trajectory.
In 2008, Rafael won India's low-level quick reaction missile system (LLQRM) competition with the mobile SPYDER (Surface-to-air Python and Derby) short-range air defense system, and it now is competing for India's quick reaction missile (QRM) and medium range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) competition with the SPYDER-SR (short-range) and SPYDER-MR (medium-range) missile systems, Horowitz said.
Jacob Ilan, Rafael director, business development and marketing, Naval Warfare Systems Directorate, said the company is promoting the Sky Shield electronic warfare (EW) support jamming pod system and the Jam-Air system to the Indian military.
Sky Shield simultaneous jams multiple ground-based radar threats and is adaptable to small and large aircraft.
The Jam-Air directional infrared (IR) countermeasure (DIRCM) system is designed for helicopters and light aircraft to counter man-portable (MANPAD) missiles. The Jam-Air system is triggered and pointed toward the incoming missile, which transmits a modulated IR beam toward the missile and confuses it.
Rafael is also pushing the Spike missile system, which is a third generation MANPAD missile. Both the Spike MR (range 2.5 kilometers) and Spike ER (8 kilometers) were on display
"The Indians are interested in both systems," said a Rafael official.
The Spike system can be equipped on a ground-based vehicle or helicopter for ground attack for tanks, light armored vehicles, bunkers and urban structures.
Elbit Systems is promoting UAVs to the Indian military. Platforms of interest include the Hermes 450, the new Hermes 900, the Skylark I and II. The Skylark I is a mini man-pack UAV system designed for close range "beyond-the-hill missions." The new Skylark II is for longer ranges and extended missions.
However, India's air force and army have so far only procured IAI UAVs. India has procured IAI-built Searcher II, Heron II, and the Malat-built Searcher UAVs in the past.
Besides UAVs, IAI is promoting a variety of products for the Indian military, including the NIMROD 3, the Netcentric Laser-Guided Warfare System, the Naval Rotary UAV (NRUAV) system for naval vessels, and the Medium Range Ground-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) system.
Yair Ramati, IAI corporate vice president for marketing, said IAI had made efforts to create programs that benefited both India and Israel.
"In order to promote our business here in India, we created a joint venture with Tata, called Nova. We plan to invest up to $50 million into this joint venture," he said.
In January, the IAI board approved the initial $50 million investment in Nova Integrated Systems Ltd., with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd.
"The most critical issue is not the money, but that IAI is willing to share its technology with India," he said. "Cooperation is the key to the Indian market."
According to Ramati, India has also expressed interest in the IAI Elta Systems Gulfstream G-550 Conformal AEW&C aircraft, which is on display at Aero India.
The Israel Military Industries (IMI) booth was promoting the IRON FIST for India's T-90 main battle tanks. The IRON FIST is a new product that neutralizes anti-tank threats with a two layered active defense system. The first is a soft kill system that uses a directional electronic jammer mounted on the launcher. The second is a hard kill system that uses a "blast interceptor" that destroys the incoming round.
An IMI official also said the Delilah is now ready for export and available for the Indian market. The Delilah is a stand-off air-to-surface missile system for both ground and sea-based targets. Delilah can also be launched from ships, said the official.
A smaller Israeli company gaining interest by the Indian military is RADA Electronic Industries. Ofer Weinberg, RADA marketing director, said India is interested in its Inertial Navigation Systems, including its R-100F FOG-based Embedded GPS/INS system and the Modular Avionics MEMS-based INS (MAVINS) system.