Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and India's Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) are to increase co-operation and may jointly invest in the development of new systems, including unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) as well as airborne intelligence and surveillance systems.

The agreement gives Indian industry a third major partner, having signed deals last year with Russian companies, including licence production by HAL of the Sukhoi Su-30, and French manufacturers earlier this year.

Discussions were held in Israel earlier this month during a visit by senior Indian defence officials, including the minister for defence industries and officials from the major Indian defence companies.

Israel sees India as a huge potential market for defence systems. India recently signed a $270 million deal to purchase the IAI/Rafael Barak warship point defence missile for its navy. India has also purchased the IAI Malat Searcher and Heron UAVs as well as the IAI MBT Harpy attack drone. India is also negotiating the purchase of three Phalcon airborne early warning systems, produced by IAI subsidiary Elta.

The negotiations included the Israeli company's possible involvement in HAL's Advanced Light Helicopter programme.

IAI's Mata helicopter division is establishing maintenance centres for military helicopters in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America to support recent upgrade programmes. Under its strategy, Mata is marketing low-cost upgrades as part of deep maintenance proposals. Mata has recently upgraded three Bell 212s for the Venezuelan air force, and recently won a contract to upgrade Mil Mi-17 Hips for an African air force.

Source: Flight International