India, Israel likely to hold joint anti-terror training exercises

After becoming the country's second-largest supplier of defence equipment, Israel is now moving closer to building military ties with India. While the Indian Army already uses a variety of Israeli equipment for counter-terror operations, the two countries are now looking at conducting joint training exercises.

The Army is tightlipped about it but it is learnt that the hush-hush visit by Israel's Army Chief Major General Avi Mizrahi is aimed at firming up a proposal for joint anti-terror exercises.

General Mizrahi, who arrived for a three-day visit to India on Tuesday, met the top Indian Army leadership, including Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, and discussed specifics of an agreement to conduct anti-terror war games in India.

The two armies are expected to take part in the exercises that will simulate scenarios including urban warfare, hostage rescue, deep penetration assaults and close quarter battles in mountainous regions. With the Indian Army having better training facilities, Israeli commando forces are likely to come and take part in exercises in India.

The exercises are also likely to be made a regular affair in the future. While the Indian Army refused to confirm it, General Kapoor is also expected to visit Israel in the coming future. In the past, several Indian Army personnel have undergone specialised training courses in Israel.

The Indian Air Force also has a cross-training agreement with Israel and IAF pilots are cross-attached for short durations to Israeli airfields. Pilots from Israel, too, are training on IAF's Russian origin MiG 29 fighters.

General Mizrahi was also scheduled to meet Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee Admiral Sureesh Mehta during his visit. Israel is of special interest to the Navy as Israeli UAVs are already the backbone of its unmanned surveillance network.

India has recently signed a deal to procure the Spyder air defence missile system for the Indian Air Force and is awaiting the retrofitted IL 76 borne Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems from Israel next month.

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