Navy chief to leave for Israel ahead of Modi visit

Navy chief to leave for Israel ahead of Modi visit
India's senior most military officer and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba will leave for Israel on Monday on an official visit to take forward the military relations with the west Asian country, which is one of the major supplier of arms to the Indian military.

Admiral Lanba's four-day visit comes weeks before the proposed tour of the Prime Minister Naredra Modi to Israel – maiden trip by an Indian Prime Minister – in the first half of July.

The Navy Chief would hold bilateral discussions with Lt Gen Gadi Eisenkot, Chief of the General Staff, Israeli Defence Force to explore avenues for greater cooperation between the two Armed Forces, besides also meeting the Commander-in-Chief of Israeli Navy and Commanders of Israeli Air Force and Israeli Ground Forces, said a Navy spokesperson.

Admiral Lanba would also be visiting Haifa Naval Base as well as Israeli air force and ground force establishments, as a part of the preparation for the Modi tour, which is likely to have a significant military components.

With more than $ 1 billion in annual sales, Israel has emerged as India's one of the key suppliers of arms and ammunition. Out of 37 contracts that the defence ministry signed with foreign vendors in the last two fiscals, Israel comes at number two position with 7 contracts after USA.

Over the last few years, India contracted Israel to supply air defence missiles to Navy and Air Force. Continuing the trend, the defence ministry in April awarded a $ 2 billion (nearly Rs 12,880 crore) contract to Israel Aerospace Industries for supplying air defence missiles to the Indian Army.

Last month, four Indian warships from the Western fleet – INS Mumbai, INS Tarkash, INS Trishul and INS Aditya – visited Haifa last month during their overseas deployment. Also Indian Air Force for the first time will take part in the seven nation Blue Flag air exercise at Uvda air base towards the end of 2017.

India recognised formation of Israel in 1950, but a formal diplomatic relation between the two nations was established in 1992 with defence cooperation being the mainstay of the relations. So far no Indian Prime Minister visited Israel and Modi is likely to be the first one.

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