India cancels $500 million arms deal with Israel

Purchase of $500 million Israeli anti-tank missile system nixed despite initial agreement reached in 2016.

David Rosenberg ,

Flag of India
Flag of India

The Indian government has announced it will not purchase nearly half a billion dollars in Israeli weapons, cancelling an arms deal reached last year.

India’s defense ministry had negotiated the purchase of anti-tank missile systems for infantry units from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems last year, settling on a price of $500 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Rafael would manufacture the Spike missile, a fourth-generation Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (MPATGM), together with India’s Kalyani Group at a factory outside of Hyderabad. The facility to be used for producing the missiles was opened in August.

According to The Indian Express, senior defense ministry sources said that the Israeli-Indian arms deal was scrapped for fear that reliance on imported weapons technology would reduce the prospects of India producing its own indigenous infantry-based anti-tank missile system. India has also turned down offers for similar missile systems from Raytheon-Lockheed Martin in the US.

One source told the Express that the ministry believes a comparable domestic equivalent can be produced within three to four years.

The ministry “is confident about providing the Army with an MPATGM of 3rd generation missile technology, at par with Spike, within three to four years. It won’t also need any transfer of technology.”

But Indian army officials have warned that the cancellation will setback procurement timetables for the Indian military, leaving it vulnerable in the interim.

The original tender for the missile purchase was issued in 2009, with testing conducted on the Israeli-built Spike missile system from 2011 to 2012, leading to initial agreement for the purchase in 2013, with full approval by the defense ministry in 2014.