TEL AVIV: A missile deal with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. that the Indian government had cancelled is back on the table, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu’s comment to Israeli reporters covering his state visit to India comes several weeks after word that the Indian defence ministry’s $500 million purchase of Rafael’s Spike anti-tank missiles had been called off. Announced last spring, the deal was seen as a testament to burgeoning business and security ties between the two countries.
Rafael confirmed earlier this month that the deal had been called off, but Israeli officials promised to press the Indian government to reinstate it. It wasn’t clear if the revived deal would still total $500 million; Netanyahu said details were being finalized.
India’s government had cancelled the contract to give the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) an opportunity to design, develop and manufacture its own anti-tank missile, two Indian defence officials said in early January, asking not to be identified because they were talking about private discussions.
Netanyahu’s trip follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s landmark visit to Israel in July, when the two leaders hailed growing defence cooperation and signed agreements in areas ranging from water conservation to space research. Trade between the countries has grown from about $200 million in 1992, when they established diplomatic ties, to nearly $4.2 billion in 2016, according to Israel’s Economy Ministry.