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Last Updated Wednesday April 25 2018 06:03 PM IST

India cancels Rafael deal, keen to make own missiles

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Rafael deal Modi became the first sitting Indian prime minister to visit Israel last summer, and Netanyahu will fly to India on Jan. 14: Representative image

Jerusalem: India has called off an order to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel's state-owned defense contractor Rafael, the company said Wednesday.

The deal was worth about $500 million and the announcement of its termination came a couple of weeks before Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to visit India.

An Indian defense ministry spokesman declined comment on the cancellation. Local media reported that India’s Defense Research and Development Organization was developing a domestic anti-tank missile the government was keen to support.

"Rafael regrets the decision and remains committed to cooperating with the Indian ministry of defense and to its strategy of continuing to work in India, an important market, as it has for more than two decades, to provide India with the most advanced and innovative systems," the firm said in a statement.

However, India's defense ministry said separately it had cleared a plan to buy 131 Barak surface-to-air missiles built by Rafael. The Rs 4.6-billion order follows up an earlier purchase of Barak missiles, meant to protect navy vessels against sea-skimming missiles and aerial threats.

The two countries have grown closer since prime minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, widening commercial cooperation beyond their longstanding defense ties.

Modi became the first sitting Indian prime minister to visit Israel last summer, and Netanyahu will fly to India on Jan. 14.

Rafael, whose CEO will join Netanyahu on his trip, said the cancellation was made prior to the signing of the final supply contract and despite its compliance with all of India's wishes.

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