Derby For Tejas A Kosher Deal?

The Indian Tejas light combat aircraft programme's decision to arm the platform with Israeli Derby air-to-air missiles has already raised questions, both from rival missile makers (who have an interest, obviously, since the decision means lost potential business) as well as officials in government. To begin with, a question hangs over whether the selection of the Derby was based on a competitive bid process (sources say it wasn't) by the Aeronautical Development Agency. Second, the rather adverse observations that India's national audit watchdog made last year on Rafael's supply of the same missile to the Indian Navy for its Sea Harrier limited upgrade package. One person I spoke to in the IAF wondered how such a deal could go through when the operational capabilities of the weapon had been specifically called into question.

In the shadowy world of India's weapon acquisitions, defence deals with Israel are particularly secretive (and uniformly government-to-government). And despite the Israeli MoD's efforts during Aero India this time to "open up", involve and brief the press, I hear it turned out to be a thumpingly boring affair, with no questions entertained on specific deals, and just lots of Powerpoint on products. Pity.

Photo by Shiv Aroor

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