NEW DELHI:Even as Israel faces international condemnation for its inhuman and Nazi-like attacks on beleaguered Gaza, India’s BJP government is finalising the procurement of Barak-1 anti-ship missiles from Tel Aviv for the Indian Navy (IN).
Official sources said the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Modi is expected to imminently approve the import of 262 Rafael-Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-designed Barak (Lightening)-1 missiles worth Rs 800-1000 crores.
Their procurement was sanctioned by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) last December by the outgoing Congress Party-led federal coalition, after it lifted a seven-year long ban on the Israeli missile manufacturer.
Rafael-IAI was proscribed in 2006 following allegations of having bribed senior Indian officials, including a retired IN chief, in the previous NDA regime to secure the missile tender in 2000.
After years of inquiries the CBI uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing and last December filed its closure report on the Barak case.
This cleared the way for additional imports of Barak-1 missiles with a 10km strike range to augment the INs depleting arsenal and for fitment onto newly commissioned warships.
The Barak-1 point defence systems arm eight IN warships, including its lone aircraft carrier INS Viraat.
In its October 2006 charge sheet, the CBI declared that former defence Minister George Fernandes and retired IN chief, Adm Sushil Kumar were ‘influenced’ by middlemen like former naval officer Suresh Nanda to push the Barak-1 missile.
In March 2008 the CBI arrested Nanda in Mumbai for receiving Rs 4 million as kickbacks to facilitate the Barak-1 systems purchase under the NDA.
Five years later the case was closed.
But the ban on Rafael-IAI and the continuing CBI investigations into their activities did not deter the UPA from signing a $ 330 million collaborative agreement in January 2006 with the missile maker to develop Barak-2, the next generation ship borne area air-defence missile system with a range of 70-80 km.
Over eight years later this system remains under development.
In February 2009 the UPA once again secretly signed a $2.01 billion contract with IAI for a medium range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) system, three days before the announcement of general elections.
The agreement for 24 IAI-designed Barak next generation MR-SAM systems and some 2000 Rafael missiles with a 70 km range for the Indian Air Force was kept confidential. The Congress Party feared that this disclosure could prove politically detrimental to PM Manmohan Singh’s government in wooing Muslim votes essential for re-election.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick