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Israel’s military exports to India booming, 'unaffected' by war in Gaza

Israel has been one of the top military exporters to India over the past decade.
A Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle is displayed at the Singapore Airshow in Singapore on Feb. 21, 2024.

Israel’s military exports to its largest customer, India, have been unaffected by the war in Gaza, despite the Middle Eastern country delaying more than $1.5 billion of such exports to other countries, according to a report.

Israel’s arms exports have been growing in recent years due to the global rise in military spending because of conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. However, due to the war in Gaza and skirmishes with Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border, domestic defense needs have often superseded international needs, meaning that some export contracts have been delayed. Israeli business newspaper Calcalist reported on Jan. 14 that since the beginning of the war on Oct. 7, major Israeli defense companies Rafael, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems have delayed more than $1.5 billion in weapons exports to global customers. 

But Reuters, citing Indian and Israeli sources with knowledge of the details, reported on Friday that Israel’s military exports have not been disrupted to the South Asian powerhouse. 

India is also the world’s largest arms importer, buying $37 billion worth between 2012 and 2022, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Between 2018 and 2022, India had an 11% share of all global weapons imports, the SIPRI data said.

Over the last 10 years, India has imported $2.9 billion in military equipment from Israel, according to SIPRI. The sales include combat drones, missiles, radars and other surveillance systems, per Reuters. 

Haaretz reported in December of 2022 that Israeli defense exports to India are estimated at $1.5 to $2 billion per year.

The Israeli source told Reuters, "We made sure our (military) exports to India are not impacted.” The Indian military official said that India had continued to steadily buy weapons from Israel, including drone parts.

Russia is the biggest arms exporter to India, followed by France and then the United States. Israel is the fourth largest exporter, according to the SIPRI's data on arms exports to India from 2012 to 2022. 

Despite India and Israel only normalizing diplomatic ties in 1992, the Middle Eastern military exports to the South Asian nation date back to the 1960s. Israeli weapons helped arm India in wars against China and Pakistan. 

Elbit Systems, one of Israel’s largest military companies, in 2018 agreed to work with Indian conglomerate Adani Group to make Hermes 900 drones at a facility in southern India, which are exported back to Israel for its own use.