India plans to purchase 131 surface-to-air missiles from Israel amid New Delhi’s border disputes with its neighbors China and Pakistan.
The Indian defense ministry announced the $70 million arms deal for the purchase of Barak missiles from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems on Tuesday.
The missiles will be launched on India’s first aircraft carrier which is currently under construction.
The news comes ahead of an upcoming four-day visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India in mid-January on top of a business delegation.
Israel has been supplying India with various weapons systems, missiles and drones over the past few years, making India one of Israel’s largest buyers of military hardware. The regime is currently selling an average of $1 billion of military equipment to India every year.
In April 2017, India and Israel inked a military agreement worth $2 billion. The deal includes the supply of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology to India for several years.
It is still unclear whether the Tuesday agreement was part of that comprehensive military deal.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, India has also signed several military deals with other countries.
There has been growing international concern over a renewal of border disputes between India and China. The hostilities had resulted in a short but deadly frontier war between the two sides in 1962, in which China emerged victorious.
The two nuclear-armed powers share a 3,500-kilometer border, much of it is disputed between the two neighbors.
India is also facing intensified border tensions with Pakistan, due to the ongoing clashes in Kashmir, a disputed Muslim-majority region that has for years demanded independence or a merger with Pakistan.