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India negotiating $1.5 bn defence deal with Israel, says report

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File photo of Phalcon AWACS

JERUSALEM (PTI): India is negotiating a deal with Israel to purchase four intelligence and early warning planes at a cost of $ 1.5 billion, a media report said on Monday.

Indian Defence Secretary Vijay Singh is leading a delegation to Israel this week to discuss the purchase of the planes and missiles from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), daily Ha'aretz reported.

The Indian delegation will also discuss cooperation with Israel on intelligence matters in the war on terror, sources close to the Israeli defence industries reportedly told the daily.

Earlier, India had bought Phalcon AWACS plane radars from IAI for USD 1.1 billion, a deal that has been delayed but likely to come through by early 2010.

Negotiations over the new deal is said to have started a few months ago.

India has also made other big deals with Israel recently involving a USD 640 million sea-to-sea missile project and a USD 260 million purchase of anti-aircraft missiles.

The Indian delegation includes senior officials from the Defence Ministry, high ranking officers from the army and air force, as well as officials involved in military research and development, the report said.

A source close to the IAI told the daily that the first Phalcon AWACS will be delivered to India in the next few weeks. The delay stems from problems discovered during test flights, which have since been corrected.

The visit comes in the shadow of an investigation being carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into alleged kickbacks in previous deals between the two countries, including those with IAI and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems.

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