War on ISIS
As part of the 1,500 troop increase President Obama authorized on November 7th, 250 paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne will deploy to Iraq in December. Officials at the White House stated the personnel will not engage in combat, but will train and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish fighters. U.S. allies will also provide an additional 1,500 soldiers to advise local forces.
Four French Air Force Mirage 2000N fighter aircraft. (Photo: AFP)
The French government announced it would deploy six Mirage fighter jets in order to “strengthen our presence in this theater of operations.” Nine Rafale warplanes already operate out of the UAE. A U.S. F-16 Falcon crashed shortly after takeoff in Jordan, killing the pilot. Central Command (CENTCOM) released a statement saying the crash was not combat related.
Iranian Air Force F-4 Phantom II jet bombed ISIS targets in Iraq’s eastern Diyala province last week. Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to encourage Iran’s military intervention saying that any such action against the jihadists would have a “positive” effect.
Congress approved the 2014 United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, sending the bill to President Obama for approval. Among other things, the bill increases the value of the pre-positioned U.S. weapons stockpile available to the IDF by $200 million to $1.8 billion.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot to replace Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz as IDF chief of staff. Eisenkot rose through the infantry to become operations director during the 2006 war in Lebanon. His nomination now goes to the cabinet for approval.
The Israeli cabinet approved the purchase of 14 additional Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, instead of the 31 requested by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. However, defense sources say that Israel may order 17 fighter jets in 2017, allowing the IAF to have two squadrons of 25 F-35s.
New IAF recruits will start training in the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 “Lavi” over the next two years, replacing exercises taught in the aging A-4 Skyhawks. Experienced IAF pilots training in Italy over the past year will assist the transition. Five of 30 Lavi aircraft recently arrived at Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev.
IDF officials announced that the David’s Sling air defense system will soon be deployed for testing in Israel. The system has a coverage area three times larger than the Iron Dome and is designed to intercept short and medium range missiles.
Israeli Military Technology
Israel’s Southern Command will receive new unmanned systems next year to help secure the country’s borders. Mark I, a TOMCAR modified by G-NIUS Systems, is equipped with nine cameras, listening devices, and a megaphone. Meanwhile the Mark III, an upgraded Ford F-350, can engage enemy targets with advanced mounted weapons. Both unmanned vehicles help the IDF patrol the Gazan and Egyptian borders without exposing troops to IEDs, snipers, and kidnappers.
Industry organizers hosted the second annual Autonomous Unmanned Systems and Robotics Expo (AUS&R) in Israel in late November.
IDF Namer APC during Golani training (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
IDF leaders are considering postponing the purchase of additional Namer Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) amid budgeting shortfalls and the expense of competing projects, such as the F-35 fighter. The decision remains controversial following the deaths of six IDF soldiers when their outdated APC was hit by a Hamas anti-tank weapon during Operation Protective Edge.
The Jerusalem Post released an article highlighting the work of the Israeli Navy’s elite Unit for Underwater Missions. Government officials said the specialized force cleared explosives underwater and repaired submerged navy vessels during the August war.
The Israeli firm RADA will supply a new C-RAM tactical radar system for the IDF’s national alert system. So-called Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radar (MHR) enables the military to gain information on many different types of airborne threats including rockets, mortars, and UAVs.
Israeli Military Sales
India approved the purchase of 8,000 Spike anti-tank guided missiles worth $525 million, rejecting a counter bid for U.S. Javelin missiles. New Delhi will also buy over 250 Barak surface-to-air missiles for its battleships, finalizing a deal that had been delayed for years.
South Korea delayed awarding a bid to Boeing, Airbus, or Israel Aerospace Industries regarding new aerial refuelers until early next year. The IAI proposal included supplying Seoul with an indigenously modified Boeing 767-300ER.
Raytheon was awarded a $75 million contract to provide the preliminary design for a new air and missile defense system in Qatar.
France and Kuwait finished a two week joint training in the Persian Gulf. The exercise, code named “Pearl of the West 2014”, tested Kuwaiti military preparedness.
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond announced a new agreement with Bahrain whereby the Royal Navy will establish an on-land facility at Mina Salman port to store military equipment and house sailors. The measure ensures a permanent footing for the Royal Navy, which already has three minesweepers stationed in Bahrain.
Turkey will increase its defense spending by 4.4 percent next year, according to a recently released budget proposal. However, most new acquisitions or developments will come from outside “direct” defense budgeting and from other departments such as homeland security and state research agencies. Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries also plans to raise up to $5 billion through a proposed conscription exemption fee, according to Defense News.
Raytheon announced that Norway, Finland, Switzerland, and Turkey successfully fired five Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) AIM-120C7 as part of a training exercise in September.
A U.S. made Apache attack helicopter. (Photo: DefenseWeb)
Egypt took delivery of 10 Boeing Apache attack helicopters from the United States on November 24th. Washington delayed the order several times over human rights concerns. The delivery of other weapons systems, including four F-16s and M1 tank kits, are still suspended.
The Lebanese government is nearing the completion of 12 fortified outposts along the country’s border with Syria. The UK helped fund the program costing about $30 million beginning in 2011.
Odds and Ends
British-born American hostage Luke Somers, was killed by al-Qaeda terrorists during a U.S. Special Forces rescue attempt in Yemen. Other foreign nationals kidnapped by the group were freed during a previous raid.