Indian Air Force chief on Israel visit

New Delhi/Tel Aviv, Jan 20: Indian Air Force (IAF) chief N.A.K. Browne is on a four-day visit to Israel, during which he will discuss ongoing military cooperation programmes.

The goodwill visit formally began on Sunday with presentation of a combined guard of honour at the Camp Rabin (Kirya) Base in central Tel Aviv and discussions with his host, Israel Air Force commander Maj.Gen. Amir Eshel.

The IAF chief, who is accompanied by a small but high-level IAF delegation, will discuss the progress of ongoing military cooperation between the two countries.

Israel is supplying missiles and some electronic warfare systems to India but the biggest deal is about five Phalcon AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Aircraft) fitted on board Russian IL 76 four-engine jets.

Air Chief Marshal Browne had told India Strategic defence magazine (www.indiastrategic.in) recently that while three AWACS had been delivered to India, the discussions about two more were in progress.

The Indian air chief, who is also the current chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, is scheduled to call on Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of the General Staff, Lt.Gen. Benjamin Gantz.

The visit of Air Chief Marshal Browne to Israel, as the IAF chief, comes after 12 years of him being posted as the defence attache at Tel Aviv for a three-year tenure. He was responsible for establishing the Indian Defence Wing in Tel Aviv in April 1997.

Israel’s total defence exports to India have reached a figure of $9 billion since then.

Air Chief Marshal Browne would also visit Israeli air bases and squadrons, where he would be briefed on the operational procedures of the Israeli Air Force.

He is also visiting the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum where he will lay a wreath in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, according to an official statement released simultaneously in New Delhi and Tel Aviv.

(Gulshan Luthra writes on strategic affairs. He can be contacted at gulshan.luthra@indiastrategic.in)

IANS