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Issue # 1400      25 February 2009

India:

Communists oppose missile deal

The General Secretaries of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India, Prakash Karat and AB Bardhan, have addressed a letter to the Indian Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singhji regarding the contract for Air Defence Missile Systems placed with the Israel Aircraft Industries. Below is the text of the letter to the press.

We are writing to you regarding the contract for Air Defence Missile Systems placed by the Ministry of Defence with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI).

The amount involved is around 10 billion Rupees (AU$312 million) for the supply of around 12 such systems.

This is surprising considering that such a contract has been given when IAI is already under investigation on charges of bribery and corruption over the ship-mounted Barak missile system. We had brought this to your notice in our earlier letter dated March 18, 2008 about the kickbacks and use of middle-men in the Barak deal, which are in violation of Indian laws. In the past India has blacklisted firms such as Bofors, Sweden and Denel, South Africa for similar cases of kickbacks and middle-men.

The deal with IAI is also surprising on other counts. First, it involves systems that have yet to be even developed by IAI, let alone manufactured and test proven.

Secondly, our own government Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has already developed and repeatedly field proven our domestic DRDO’s Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missiles capacity.

The domestic AAD missile is both capable of destroying incoming aircraft and enemy missiles – intercepting even ballistic missiles at altitudes up to as high as 18 kilometres.

Thus the proposed missiles sought to be developed by the private arms manufacturer IAI appears to be inferior to our own AAD missiles on the counts of technical, cost and operational readiness.

Thirdly, to give a “cover” of indigenous involvement and content, DRDO has been forced to enter into a so-called “joint development” of the IAI Air Defence Missile even when it already has its own superior AAD missile!  

This deal again brings out the unfortunate influence that Israeli arms manufacturers, including government-owned entities, assert on India’s arms purchases. Nothing else can explain why IAI, a company which is already seriously implicated in corruption in India and in Israel, should be favoured in this way.

We urge you to get the contract stopped and see that the DRDO’s indigenous missile program is not subverted in this way.   

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