February 01, 2005

Israel chooses American UAV over Indian Lakshya

Israel chooses American UAV over Indian Lakshya

Israel is backtracking on its commitment made to India over 'reciprocal procurement' of defence-related items, wavering over the purchase of Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA), Lakshya, and Advanced Light Helicopter , Dhruv.

"The Indian UAV (Lakshya) was one of the many options that were examined some months ago. The final evaluation of the various aspects of each proposal included technical and cost parameters. In that examination, budget constraints dictated a choice of the American UAV", Rachek Niedek Ashkenazi, spokesperson of the Israeli defence ministry, told PTI.

Israel had shown interest in buying some 20 Lakshyas from India two years ago when it was trying to cement its growing defence ties with New Delhi.

It also paid India for conducting extensive trials but has ever since remained silent on the issue choosing to ignore every time a visiting Indian defence delegation raised the matter. Jerusalem is now leaning towards inducting American Chakor PTA system and the KD-2R5 PTAs.

"However, it should be noted that there are other areas of co-operation. One such project is the Dhruv, advanced light helicopter (ALH), which is a joint project of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI)", Ashkenazi said.

Despite the co-operation between the two companies in the development of the 'international version' of the ALH, Israel seems to be reluctant to buy the helicopter, which IAI officials had said would be inducted in January to ferry VIPs and defence officials.

"We are leaning towards leasing one Dhruv helicopter at the moment", a defence source said. IAI has provided the avionics system and glass cockpit for the helicopter and a joint Indian and Israeli team performed several evaluation tests of the helicopter in July for the Chilean Armed Forces, which have evinced interest in purchasing the ALH.

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