Defense ties have long underpinned Indian-Israeli relations, but a $630 million deal signed recently reflects wider cooperation that could benefit Indian Army seeking hefty arm supplies.

The Israel Aerospace Industries said in a statement that this deal was the single largest contract in its history. Worth approximately $1.6 billion for IAI, the remaining amount will go to another state-owned defence company Rafael, that’d be providing components for the systems.

A few months back, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said India signed several agreements with Israel on science, agriculture and technology, as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to the country, 25 years after both nations established diplomatic relations.

As part of the same, India inked a missile defence contract with Israel for supplying advanced medium-range surface-to-air missile systems (MRSAM) to India. Israel Aerospace Industries also said it would provide additional long-range air and missile defence systems (LRSAM) for the first locally produced Indian aircraft carrier.

What is MRSAM?

It’s an advanced air and missile defence system that gives ultimate protection against a ‘plethora of aerial threats’. The technology is believed to have been jointly developed India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation in close collaboration with Rafael and IAI’s Elta division.

The MRSAM includes an advanced phased-array radar, command and control, mobile launchers and missiles with advanced RF seekers that allow the armed forces to take down missiles, aircraft, and drones with ranges of up to 70 km.

On Tuesday itself, the first long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) was handed over to India’s Defense Minister Arun Jaitley during a ceremony in Hyderabad.

Jaitley said during the ceremony that today marks an important and historic moment for his country as its navy receives one of the most advanced missile systems in the world. He added that the system will help the navy protect India.

“The defense relationship has been the main driver of the rapprochement between India and Israel,” Nicolas Blarel, assistant professor at the Institute of Political Science in Leiden University, told media once.

“Israel was one of the main suppliers for India during the Kargil war with Pakistan. It showed its reputation as a strong, stable supplier, even in times of duress. So since then, there have been a lot of major, important deals,” said Blarel.

Through this new deal, Israel aims to strengthen its position in the Indian defence market. Currently, it is India’s fourth-largest arms supplier after the US, Russia and France.