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Pakistan Denounces Indian Deal to Buy Advanced Radar Systems - 2003-10-11


India has signed a deal to buy sophisticated airborne radar systems from Israel. Pakistan has objected to the move.

The agreement to supply New Delhi with the advanced PHALCON early warning radar systems was signed in the Indian capital Friday by representatives of India, Israel and Russia. The Israeli radar systems will be fitted onto Russian-made cargo planes.

The deal is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion.

Defense analysts say the Israeli radar system will put large parts of Pakistan under Indian surveillance, including the disputed areas of Kashmir.

Deputy Director of New Delhi's Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis, Uday Bhaskar, says the PHALCON radar system will give India a strategic advantage over archrival Pakistan.

"It does give it [India] a certain edge, particularly when we talk about air defense operations," he explains, "because what the PHALCON would do as and when it is acquired, and that is some years away, is to provide an over-the-horizon surveillance capability that allows you to direct your air defense operations in a more efficient manner in terms of providing command and control."

Defense ties between India and Israel have grown rapidly in recent years, and Israel is now the second largest supplier of defense equipment to India after Russia. Friday's deal is the biggest so far between the two countries.

India has been negotiating the PHALCON deal for several years. But the United States persuaded Israel to delay the agreement last year because of tensions between India and Pakistan were high.

However, Washington lifted its objections recently, and last month's visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to New Delhi paved the way for finalizing the deal.

India also wants to buy anti-ballistic Arrow missiles from Israel, but this has yet to be cleared by the United States, which funded the system's research and development.

Pakistan has repeatedly expressed concern about the growing India-Israeli defense links, saying India's acquisition of sophisticated defense equipment could destabilize South Asia and upset the conventional military balance in the region.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947. While tensions have cooled somewhat, a new peace process initiated earlier this year has been slow to get off the ground.

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