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India invites greater participation from Israeli defence companies


India on Friday invited greater participation from Israeli defence companies under the new liberalised foreign direct investment (FDI) regime in defence manufacturing. This was conveyed during a telephonic conversation between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Israeli counterpart Lieutenant General Benjamin Gantz.

The conversation took place as the Indian Armed Forces are undertaking a series of emergency defence purchases, including from Israel, amid ongoing tensions with China on the border. In May, the government increased the limit for FDI in defence through the automatic route from 49% to 74%.

“Both the Ministers expressed satisfaction at the progress of strategic cooperation between the two countries and discussed possibilities of further strengthening the defence engagements,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement. The two Ministers also expressed satisfaction at the ongoing collaboration in research and development in fighting the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Defence Minister of Israel responded positively to an invitation from Mr. Singh to visit India at the earliest opportunity, the statement added.

The Army has already taken a decision to order another batch of 12 launchers and around 250 missiles of Spike Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) and additional Heron Undermanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), among others, from Israel through the emergency procurement route.

Last week, the Defence Ministry once again gave emergency powers to the Armed Forces to procure weapons systems up to ₹300 crores on an urgent basis without any further clearances to cut short the procurement cycle. Similar powers were given to the forces after the Balakot airstrike in February 2019, based on which the first batch of Spike ATGMs was procured.