JERUSALEM --- Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on Monday announced it has signed a deal with a leading Indian defense contractor to advance the joint development of a ship- defense system.
"A memorandum of understanding was signed on Dec. 5 between IAI and Bharat Electronics Limited India (BEL) concerning their cooperation on future LRSAM ship-defense system projects," IAI said in a statement released Monday.
The Barak 8 surface-to-air missile (SAM), referred to by the Indians as the long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM), is designed to defend against aircraft, anti-ship missiles and drones, and is being developed for both the Indian and the Israeli militaries.
The Israelis already employ an older version of the system. Its new generation is slated to feature an extended range of 70 km, as well as an upgraded interceptor missile and radar. In its naval variant, the interceptor can take out an incoming enemy missile as close as 500 meters away from a ship.
The joint development was officially launched with a 330 million-U.S. dollar deal signed in January 2007 in a tripartite venture between IAI, the Indian Navy and the Indian Defense Ministry's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), which developed the dual-pulse rocket motor for the SAM and is heavily involved in the development of the system's other critical components.
In November 2009, the Indian government awarded IAI a 1.4 billion dollar contract, the single-largest in the company's history, for the supply of an assortment of weapons systems, including the Barak 8, according to Indian media reports.
Under the terms of the offset deal, IAI and its subsidiaries have agreed to transfer technologies and manufacturing capabilities to enable India to manufacture and support the LRSAM systems locally.
The MOU signed last Wednesday at IAI's headquarters near Tel Aviv "lays out the framework for BEL-IAI cooperation, under which BEL will function as the Lead Integrator and produce major sub-systems. IAI will continue to act as Design Authority and to produce sub-systems as a main sub-contractor," the statement said.
"The reality that prevails in the world arms market dictates offset deals in which you commit to transferring technology and production to your partner, to create and preserve jobs in his defense industries," an Israeli official told Xinhua. "This MOU strengthens the Israeli-Indo defense industry cooperation," he said.
He could not specify when the complete system will be delivered.
IAI President and CEO Joseph Weiss expressed hope that the partnership with BEL "will expand to other areas of mutual interest," according to the statement.