Strong India-Israel defence bond: IAI playing key role

By Editor 2021

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Several systems produced by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have been in use in India for several years. Recently, IAI has entered into more strategic collaborations with Indian firms, both in the public and private sectors. These programmes have contributed significantly to the strengthening of the defence cooperation between India and Israel. Yaacov Berkovitz, Senior Vice President, Marketing, India operations, IAI explains the scenario and speaks on the firm’s participation at Aero India 2021.

Defence and security cooperation is possibly the most crucial strategic meeting ground for both India and Israel. How does IAI support measures to strengthen the defence bond between the two nations and what are the contributions?

IAI has always been one of the main pillars in supplying strategic and advanced equipment to India, providing cutting-edge technology for land, maritime, aerospace and homeland security. IAI's systems such as the unmanned aerial systems (UAS), radars, special-mission aircraft, and air defence systems have been in use in India for many years, attracting high levels of customer satisfaction.

In the recent decade, IAI has entered into several more strategic collaborations with Indian firms, both in the public and private sectors, in order to integrate strategic state-of-the-art systems for India’s Ministry of Defence in various fields, and in accordance with the Make in India policy.

In 2021, IAI is expected to maintain the same policy and expand our partnership with Indian Defence companies.

IAI successfully tested MRSAM air and missile-defence system tailored for India in association with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) during the last week of December. Could you elaborate on the project?

MRSAM is an advanced, ground-breaking air and missile-defence system, jointly developed by IAI and DRDO for the Indian Armed Forces. During development, IAI collaborated with Israeli and Indian industries, including Rafael, Tata, BEL, L&T, BDL and many private vendors. The system provides the ultimate protection against a variety of aerial platforms. Used by the Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian Navy, and the Israeli Defence Force, the system incorporates an advanced phased array radar (MF-STAR or digital MMR), a command-and-control centre, mobile launchers and interceptors and an advanced RF seeker.

The IAI and the DRDO have recently concluded successful tests of the system at a test range in India. The flight test demonstrated several extreme reference scenarios, validating the system’s capabilities. As part of the test, the MRSAM interceptor was launched from a land-based mobile launcher and successfully hit its threats. The scenario began with the system’s digital MMR radar zeroing in on the threat and then launching the MRSAM interceptor toward its operational trajectory. The interceptor acquired the target and successfully intercepted it. All the system’s elements met their test goals successfully.

Conducting the test under COVID-19 limitations was yet another testimony to the strong partnership between IAI and India. We are continually working with our Indian partners to bring the best operational outcome for the needs and requirements of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. The MRSAM programme is progressing according to plan.

IAI has won avionics upgrade tenders for three separate aircraft types operated by the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). How do you look at South, South-East and East Asian regions as a market for IAI? What are the existing operations here?

IAI is Israel's home of aviation and specializes in both civilian and military aviation. Naturally, the company is looking at different opportunities around the world, including the relevant market in South Asia and India.

India is likely to sign a deal with IAI for additional Harop (P-IV) loitering weapon systems in the first quarter of 2021. What are the highlights of Harop? What are IAI’s other products and technologies used by the Indian armed forces?

With more than 35 years’ experience in developing combat-proven loitering munitions systems, IAI offers a wide range of these systems. Our solutions are uniquely capable of searching, identifying and neutralizing targets effectively and with precision. Employing various guidance systems and capabilities, IAI’s loitering systems provide solutions for a wide array of battle scenarios.

In this category IAI offers the following systems:

HAROP: The HAROP is a remotely operated stand-in loitering attack weapons system designed to locate and precisely strike targets. The HAROP loitering munition (LM) is an electro-optically guided attack platform. HAROP LMs are launched from ground- or sea-based launchers and can be controlled via a two-way data link for full man-in-the-loop operation. HAROP is used to strike high-value targets and boasts full mission capabilities, from acquiring targets to striking them to conducting battle damage assessment. Combining the characteristics of a missile and a UAV, HAROP enables the effective execution of missions without relying on any additional external system for targeting and mission intelligence. HAROP is a full combat-proven system and has demonstrated its capability around the world.

Harpy: HARPY is an all-weather, day/night, "fire and forget" autonomous weapon, launched from a ground vehicle away from the battle zone. Programmed before launch to fly autonomously to a pre-defined “Loitering Area”, the system then searches for targets with a radiation footprint. The HARPY loitering munition (LM) detects, strikes and destroys enemy radar emitters, hitting them with high precision ordnance. HARPY effectively suppresses hostile SAM and radar sites for long durations, loitering above enemy territory for hours.

Mini Harpy -The Mini Harpy is a unique tactical system designed for field or marine units. It can be launched from land, naval, and helicopter-borne platforms, providing complete independence in intelligence collection for an updated situational picture and for low-cost acquisition and annihilation of targets. Based on unique IAI developments and technology, the Mini Harpy combines the capabilities of IAI's two flagship loitering missiles, the Harop and the Harpy, offering the detection of radiation-emitting systems as well as having electro-optical capabilities. The system was introduced only few months ago and since then, IAI has seen interest in the system grow among existing customers as well as new ones. The Mini Harpy is an ideal weapon for armies looking for a cutting-edge tactical solution in the age of symmetrical or asymmetrical warfare.

Rotem- The ROTEM Aerial System (AS) is a tactical, loitering munitions system based on a light, multi-rotor platform that delivers excellent capabilities against enemy systems in complex environments and with small footprints. This lightweight and compact LM can be assembled in seconds and operated by a single soldier. The LM is capable of lethal precision strikes on stationary and mobile targets with abort/safe capability and is recoverable. ROTEM is an extremely versatile platform. It can perform squad-level ISR and attack missions with minimal planning and operational focus from the operator. The system includes a tactical kit of two LM’s with all peripherals packed in one backpack and allows operational units to use it organically as part of their standard gear. The system’s exceptional capability to hover allows the VTOL platform to acquire targets and engage them within seconds, which makes the ROTEM a game-changer for its operators. ROTEM is also a full combat-proven system and has recently won a major global tender.

What are the highlights of IAI’s participation in Aero India 2021? How do you look at the expo to forge partnership with Indian companies?

At Aero India 2021, IAI will present some of the latest and most advanced defence solutions, featuring the latest technologies in military aviation, air defence and missiles systems, unmanned systems, special mission aircraft, radars and cyber technology. Among the systems to be displayed are Heron TP, the largest platform of IAI’s family of advanced unmanned aerial systems (UAS); Maritime Heron and VTOL UAVs family by BlueBird. In addition, we will exhibit satellites; radars - both strategic and tactical; loitering munitions systems; EO surveillance systems; advanced avionic upgrades and many more systems.

Could you shed some light on IAI’s operations in commercial sector in India, especially aviation and UAV industries?

IAI specializes in upgrades of jets and helicopters in both Western and Eastern configurations. IAI has proven experience in upgrading the avionics of jets and helicopters and is a leader in converting passenger jets to cargo. We are also leaders in MRO. IAI is constantly looking at different opportunities in the civilian aviation markets in Asia, as it does in other markets around the world.

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