New Delhi: Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd plans to start a joint venture in India with state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) to develop advanced missile systems.
Since the Kargil conflict in 1999, Israel has emerged as the second largest defence supplier to India, with annual sales estimated at $1 billion (Rs4,600 crore).
The state-owned firm plans to use its India joint venture facility to source some locally made materials, mandatory for all overseas defence supplies and known as offsets.
“This is will be our first joint venture. Part of the offsets that we have to provide in India will be in this joint venture,” said Lova Drori, executive vice-president, marketing, Rafael, on the sidelines of the sixth land and naval defence systems DefExpo 2010 show in the Capital.
With around two dozen firms, Israel’s presence is among the biggest at the expo. As many as 650 firms from 23 countries, excluding China and Pakistan, are present at the show.
Aiming high: Visitors at the DefExpo. Israel has emerged as India’s second largest defence supplier, with estimated annual sales of $1 billion. Gurinder Osan/AP
A BEL executive said his firm is in discussions with Rafael regarding the joint venture. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak with the media.
“Missiles developed here use command guidance. You can have a radar that can send signals for command guidance. At present that is what is done in Akash,” the official said. “Seekers have been tried in India for Nag missiles. But (more) mature technologies will be helpful as well.”
The executive was referring to a seeker, which is a missile guidance device aboard an interceptor missile that searches for and homes in on a target.
BEL will hold a 74% stake in the venture and Rafael will own the rest, Drori said, adding that the companies would soon seek government approval on this. He also said that the proposed facility will eventually be scaled up to develop new technologies in missile seekers depending on the projects it can secure from India.
Once approved, the factory will be located near an existing campus of BEL, which has facilities in Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad.
Drori said his firm is not looking at a 49% participation in the joint venture as it feels the Indian government may not allow that. “We do not want to do that. Its unachievable. The government will not approve. We will be happy with 26%,” he said.