Settling a bitter public budget dispute, the Israeli Finance Ministry agreed to transfer $289 million to the Ministry of Defense, restoring some previously scheduled trainings and procurement contracts. Israel also agreed to the first foreign sale of its Merkava Mark IV tank to an unnamed foreign army, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
As part of next year’s Iron Dome funding allocation, American contractors will receive a three percent higher share of the funding, or more than half of the $176 million allocated by Congress.
According to new figures released by Israel’s National Cyber Bureau, the country’s cyber security industry exports over $3 billion dollars of products and services, partly a result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goal to increase annual cyber defense spending by 30 percent.
Israeli Military Technology
Israel is a global leader in unmanned systems. In mid-June, the IDF announced it was upgrading its driverless fleet, adding advanced scouting and transport. Additionally, Rafael unveiled the “Maoz”, an unmanned, ultralight, ultraportable helicopter that can stay active for eight hours and transmit images up to three miles away. Israel Military Industries (IMI) unveiled CombatGuard, a new off-road armored troop carrier capable of transporting eight soldiers through previously unnavigable terrain, traveling up to 90mph, and destroying incoming RPGs. Lastly, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has sold hundreds of new Harop “suicide” UAVs. The Harop has similar endurance to other drones in its class, but will crash into its target to destroy it.
Israel Military Industries’ CombatGuard will be unveiled at Eurosatory. (Photo: Israel Military Industries)
On June 11th, the IDF received Wind Shield, a mobile counter rocket, artillery, and mortar
(C-RAM) system produced by IAI that can be mounted on moving vehicles. Sky Sapience’s Hovermast 100, a fully autonomous tethered observation system that can operate from both fixed and mobile positions, also recently became operational.
IAI is partnering with Germany’s Rheinmetall to produce naval self-defense systems to counter sensor-guided missiles. IAI said its plan will see the ELM-2222S Navguard advanced radar system, a digital phased-array radar-based warning system that automatically detects, classifies and verifies incoming threats, integrated with the Rheinmetall’s Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS), an anti-missile system that launches smoke dispensers, flares, and decoys against.
Israeli Military Sales
Elbit Systems will supply the Swiss army with the Hermes 900HFE unmanned aircraft at a cost of $280 million. The unarmed surveillance UAV will replace the ADS 95 Ranger toward the end of the decade. The deal still requires the final approval of the Swiss government. Over the last decade, Elbit Systems has completed the modernisation of the Macedonian air force, upgrading its fleet of 10 Force Soviet-era Mi-8MT, Mi-17, and Mi-24V helicopters.
Marking its first ever sale to the southeast Asian nation, Elbit Systems also won a $20 million contract to supply upgraded armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to the Philippines Armed Forces. The upgrade will include 25 mm unmanned turrets, 12.7 mm remote controlled weapon stations (RCWS), and fire control systems (FCS) for 90 mm turrets.
IAI is competing with Airbus and Boeing for a $1.4 billion contract to supply South Korea with four aerial refueling tankers by the end of the decade. To date, Colombia and Brazil have purchased IAI’s converted Boeing 767-300ER Multi-Mission Tanker Transports.
Israel is participating at this year’s World Cup in Brazil, albeit behind the scenes. Israel’s RISCO Group is providing security management at the soccer stadium in Cuiaba and IAI’s Heron drone helped nab a Brazilian drug kingpin right before the start of the tournament.
On June 14th, the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) moved from the North Arabian Sea into the Arabian Gulf. The move was made to provide President Obama with additional military options should American lives, citizens, or interests in Iraq be at risk.
Mariam Hassan Salem al-Mansouri is the first Emirati female fighter pilot in the UAE Air Force, ranked as a squadron commander. With full support from her family, Captain Mansouri has been part of a significant amount of aerial maneuvers both inside and outside the UAE. In mid-June, the captain was honored by Emirati Vice President and Dubai rule Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashed al-Maktoum for her achievements.
In early June, the NATO counter-piracy flagship ESPS CRISTOBAL COLON provided specialized training to the Royal Omani Navy in the port of Salalah. Omani naval officers attended a workshop on counter-piracy operations aboard the NATO frigate.
Over the last five years, Saudi Arabia has increased its annual defense spending by $16 billion, an increase of 14%. This month, Riyadh received the first six of its 55 Swiss-made PC-21 turboprop trainer planes. By 2016, it will have received all the plans and be the largest operator of them.
As part of Red Flag 2014, 8 Saudi F-15s were deployed to the United States through the use of its new fleet of Airbus A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transports. Saudi pilots completed three weeks of highly realistic combat training in the U.S.
Two months after their expected delivery date, the Obama administration is delaying the delivery of 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt out of concerns over the Egyptian government’s repressive actions. Similarly, a Senate foreign aid bill has cut aid to Egypt by $400 million.
A version of the U.S. Apache helicopter. (Photo: U.S. Army)
Egyptian and French Naval units completed military drills in French territorial waters as part of an effort to increase maritime collaboration between the two countries. The exercises were focused on expanding the Egyptian and French naval forces’ combat capabilities.
On June 6th, U.S. Central Command Chief General Lloyd Austin met with Lebanese Army Chief, General Jean Qahqaji to discuss U.S-Lebanese bilateral ties. A day earlier, the Lebanese Army was given 90 U.S. vehicles as part of a military assistance program approved by the U.S. administration in 2006.
Three ATAK helicopters, which were co-manufactured by Italian company AgustaWestland and Turkish company Turkish Aerospace Industry, joined the Turkish army’s inventory on June 10th.
In addition to the two F-35s it has ordered, Turkey is hoping to develop a new generation of fighter jets by 2023. Turkey also inaugurated a new engine factory in Izmir, where the most critical engine parts of the F-35 will be manufactured, as part of a joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and Turkish aviation company Kale.
In response to the Sunni jihadi takeover of large swathes of Iraq, President Obama announced that, in addition to the 275 military personnel previously sent to protect U.S. diplomatic installations, he was also sending 300 military advisers to help the Iraqi Army. ISIS has managed captured U.S.-made Humvees, which it has already transported into Syria, and has destroyed numerous M1A1 Abrams tanks.
On June 5th, Iraq symbolically received the first of its 36 F-16s at a ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas facility. Even as the crisis rages, there are no plans to accelerate their delivery, the first three of which are expected in Iraq by the end of the year. Iraq is also in talks with the Czech Republic to purchase and modernize up to 40 Russian-made Mi-24 helicopters as well as 12 Czech-made L-159 light combat planes.
From May 25th to June 8th, the United States conducted Eagle Lion 2014, a 22-country, 12,000-personnel–half from the U.S.–military exercise in Jordan. In its fourth iteration, the exercise included training on a wide range of offensive and defensive operations that include disaster relief, strategic communication and rescue operations.
Jordan announced its intention to convert one of its two C295 transport aircraft into a gunship. The plane will be equipped with onboard mission and fire control systems, an electro-optical/infrared sensor, a synthetic aperture radar payload and a defensive aids system for self-protection. Armaments will include an ATK-supplied 30mm sideways-firing chain gun, Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and 70mm guided rockets.