EXCLUSIVE: Israel proposes JV with DRDO for standoff PGM

In yet another power-pitch for collaborative weapons development, Israel has proposed a joint venture with India to develop and manufacture an air-delivered fire-and-forget precision guided standoff weapon for the Indian and Israeli air forces. The weapon will be developed to deliver both conventional and nuclear warheads over sizeable standoff ranges. The proposal was formally made by an Israeli defence delegation, led by senior officials from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, to the DRDO's Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) in Pune on July 7, and carried forward with two more meetings at the DRDO Headquarters level in August and this month. A project case is currently under preparation -- paperwork is likely to take at least eight more months, though with elections looming, who knows.

As a recent news report by DNA's Josy Joseph suggested, the Israelis are having an "unprecedented run" in the Indian defence market. The same news report tells of how the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has completely broken with tradition and put its stamp of approval on the Rs 10,400 crore medium range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) joint venture between the two countries, currently pending final approval by the Cabinet, but expected shortly. This despite the fact that the companies involved are the same that remain officially charged by the CBI and are being investigated for paying kickbacks in the original Barak naval point defence system deal. The same duo of IAI/Rafael is already involved with the co-development of the Barak-2 surface-to-air missile with DRDL and supply of the SpyDer LLQRM to the IAF, another deal that has been criticised.

The photograph to the right is the Popeye "Crystal Maze" PGM, an existing standoff weapon in Rafael's inventory, procured by the Indian Air Force.

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