The deal for the purchase of Spike anti-tank guided missiles had also been finalised in 2017, but cancelled as India eyed an indigenous alternative

New Delhi: India is all set to sign a $500 million deal to purchase the Israeli ‘Spike’ anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) systems for the Indian Army when Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the country mid-February.

Netanyahu, who is also facing elections in his country this year like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wants to finalise the deal before he demits office. He is under pressure from the Israeli defence industry to finalise the deal with India, sources told ThePrint.

Israel has been pushing the deal, talks for which officially began in 2010, for a long time. During Netanyahu’s last visit to India in January 2018, he had urged Modi to consider finalising the contract, after New Delhi cancelled it all of a sudden without giving Tel Aviv any clear reason.

The deal to purchase the ATGMs, manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd, was finalised once before, in 2017. However, it was cancelled in January 2018 after the Modi government decided to procure the home-grown ATGM — Nag — from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Sources said “issues” between India and Israel over transfer of technology for the Spike missiles, for their production under the ‘Make in India’ programme, played a role as well.

However, the government has now taken a final decision to go ahead with the purchase. According to diplomatic sources, the modalities of the deal were agreed upon during a meeting between national security adviser Ajit Doval and his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat, who visited India earlier this month.

The Indian Army has made a requisition for 8,000 units of such missiles. Out of this, India will be buying 4,500 off the shelf, while the remaining will be manufactured locally.