Giving a strong push to India-Israel defence ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday cleared a mega deal for the Army worth Rs 17,000 crore to acquire the Medium Range Surface to Air Defence Missile (MR-SAM) system from Israel to protect India’s airspace from enemy aircraft and drones.

“In a meeting of the cabinet committee on security headed by the Prime Minister, the proposal for procuring the MR-SAM air defence system for the Army was approved and these would be deployed by the Army,” senior government sources told Mail Today.

The air-defence system developed jointly by the DRDO and Israeli Aircraft Industry can shoot down enemy aircraft, drones, surveillance aircraft and AWACS planes at the strike range between 50 km to 70 km in the sky and will help the country in filling gaps in air defence, the sources informed.

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As per the proposal cleared by the government, the Army will induct over five regiments of the MR-SAM missile which will have around 40 firing units and over 200 missiles of the system. “The delivery of the first system for the Army units will begin in 72 months of the signing of the contract and they would be ready for deployment in field areas by the year 2023,” said the sources.

A DRDO laboratory under scientific advisor to defence minister and missile systems head G Sathish Reddy has been instrumental in developing the target homing system with the Israeli firms and involves a lot of make in India element in the programme. India and Israel are jointly developing similar systems for the Air Force and the Navy.

The Air Force had got clearance for its MR-SAM programme in 2009 and the deliveries will begin after delays in the project.

The Navy programme is known as Long Range Surface to Air Missile system (LR-SAM) and would be set on its warships. Hyderabad-based Bharat Dynamis Limited will produce the missiles of the system while many other Indian industries like Bharat Electronics Ltd, Larsen and Toubro, TATA group will contribute in the production for many systems and sub-systems in it.

A new production facility to deliver 100 missiles a year has been established for such type of long and medium range surface-to-air missiles at BDL. The Army will deploy these air defence systems to provide protection to vital assets and points across the country

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