India not to join any military alliance: Antony

Tuesday, 30 December 2008, 03:25 Hrs
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New Delhi: India will not be a member of any military alliance even though it is engaged in military cooperation with many nations, Defence Minister A.K. Antony declared here Monday.

"India has military co-operation with many nations. India has conducted joint military exercises with many countries, including China and Russia. But, India is not a member of any military alliance and India will not be a member," Antony said at a select media briefing.

He was responding to a question whether India will review its military and other ties with Israel after its multiple air strikes on Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip killed over 200 people.

The Israeli military industry has emerged as India's second largest weapons provider after Russia in the decade-and-a-half after the two countries established diplomatic ties.

The two sides stepped up cooperation in creating a missile defense shield for India after an increase in tensions with Pakistan in the wake of the Dec 2001 parliament attack. The proposed shield is meant to protect major Indian cities and strategic and commercial assets from Pakistani long-range missiles.

India has acquired a powerful Green Pine early warning radar system from Israel and signed a multi-million deal for purchasing an unspecified number of Aerostat long-range radars to bolster air defenses along its borders.

New Delhi has received "large numbers" of the Aerostat radars - comprising sophisticated sensors mounted on blimp-like balloons tethered to the ground by cables - officials say.

Military experts describe the Aerostat as a cheap alternative to airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) like the Phalcon, three of which are being mounted in Israel on IL-78 platforms.

Antony also said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would inaugurate the Ezhimala Naval Academy - one of the largest in Asia - in Kerala's Kannur district on Jan 8. This will bring together the various training units of the navy at one place.

Antony also announced that a unit of Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), a Bangalore-based defence public sector company, would be set up at Kanchikode in Palakkad district.

The central government will allocate 255 crore (Rs 2.55 billion) for the first phase of the factory, which would be built on 400 acres of land provided by the state government on lease, the defence minister said.

The state government has also agreed in principle to provide another 600 acres of land for the next phase, he said.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan would inaugurate the construction work of the factory on Jan 18.
Source: IANS
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