Congress approved the Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, allocating $3.7 billion in aid for Israel. The package continues $3.1 billion in annual military aid and allocates an additional $619 million for missile defense programs. To receive some of the extra aid, the legislation requires 55% of Iron Dome components to be manufactured in the U.S., where Raytheon is the lead manufacturer. As part of the bill, Egypt will receive $1.3 billion in military aid and another $150 million in economic assistance. Jordan is slated to collect $1 billion in military and economic support, in addition to the millions of dollars already-earmarked to Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority could lose all financial assistance if it continues its unilateral statehood bid at the UN.
President Barack Obama signed the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, which increased the American supplied emergency weapons stockpile in Israel. The bill will also promote closer cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem in energy, cyber security, and alternative fuel technologies.
The Knesset Finance Committee approved an additional $530 million in special funding for the country’s armed forces.
The USS Donald Cook, a Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, visited the northern Israeli city of Haifa. As part of the U.S. 6th Fleet, the Cook is tasked with patrolling European waters and conducting joint naval trainings with allies.
An Israeli plan to buy 12 V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft from the U.S. may not have been canceled as previously reported. According to an unnamed Israeli defense official, a final decision on the purchase will be postponed until after the March elections.
Pilots in walking in front of a V-22 Osprey. (Photo: Breaking Defense)
Israel’s Arrow 3 ballistic missile shield failed a recent test on December 16th at Palmachim air base. According to officials familiar with the exercise, the integrated radar system failed to acquire its target over the Mediterranean coast and planners subsequently called off the interceptor launch.
An Israeli official says Jerusalem could develop the U.S. Navy’s Laser Weapon System (LaWS) into a low cost alternative to the Iron Dome and Patriot interceptors that are currently used for shooting incoming rockets and drones.
On December 10th, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced a new level of security cooperation. The group of six nations will create a common police force based in Abu Dhabi and a joint naval force stationed in Bahrain.
In a contract worth $31.8 million, Lockheed Martin will provide Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and other nations with training in order to become self-sufficient in F-16 maintenance.
Lockheed Martin and the United Arab Emirates announced the opening of the Center for Innovation and Security Solutions (CISS) in Abu Dhabi. The new institution will advise the government on defense related issues and help develop solutions for global challenges, such as resource scarcity.
A new U.S. submarine squadron based in Bahrain started active duty on December 15th. The group of subs will support the 5th Fleet and train other forces in the area. UK leaders hope the announcement of a new permanent base in Bahrain will facilitate the sale of fighter jets to the small emirate.
U.S. Marines and Seamen with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed a nine-day bilateral training with the Royal Saudi Naval Forces. The exercise, which included simulated assaults and casualty evacuations, helped increase cooperation and interoperability between the two nations.
Israeli Military Technology
The Israeli firm Xsight Systems developed FODetect, a radar-optical sensing system that allows pilots and air traffic controllers to detect birds in the flight path of a commercial jet. Video cameras, GPS, LEDs, and other sensors also can locate debris on the runway.
Almost three years of upgrades on the Israeli Air Force’s Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv are close to completion. The multi-million dollar U.S. funded project will harden “The Pit” against nuclear and biological attacks, according to Ynet.
Israeli Military Sales
The Polish Air Force is considering buying an Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) modified B767-300ER tanker to provide aerial refueling to its F-16s.
South Korea’s military approved the $36.5 million purchase of three Heron-I drones from IAI.
Germany announced a deal to partially finance four new corvette warships made domestically by Thyssen Krupp for the Israeli navy.
Tech. Sgt. Lorenzo Romo teaches Iraqi Air Force Brig. Gen. Abdulhussein Lafta Ali Ali ejection procedures before a 2012 orientation flight at Tucson International Airport, Ariz. (Photo: Maj. Gabe Johnson/Air Force)
The State Department approved the possible sale of 1000 Up-Armored High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) and supporting services to Iraq at a cost of $579 million. The State Department also notified Congress that it cleared the possible sale of 175 M1A1 tanks to Baghdad worth $2.4 billion. Separately, the Department of Defense awarded $9.7 million to AM General, LLC, to supply the country with 50 HMMWV.
The U.S. military announced that 24 Iraqi pilots remain years away from completing training on F-16s. Two pilots may graduate in 2017 at the earliest, according to a U.S. Air Force spokesman.
War on ISIS
Approximately 1,500 foreign troops allied with the U.S. will be deployed to Iraq to assist with operations against ISIS, according to Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve Commander Lt. Gen. James Terry. President Obama already committed 3,100 U.S. personnel to the mission late last year. Most of the soldiers will support training exercises and rebuild the Iraqi Army’s fighting capability. Britain’s defense secretary said London will increase the number of soldiers in Iraq from 50 to “the very low hundreds”, while Germany may send up to 100 specialists to train Kurdish fighters.
Turkey plans to domestically build its next multi-role fighter jet, according to National Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz. The Ankara solicited bids from GE, Rolls-Royce, and Pratt & Whitney earlier this year for the jet’s engines. The government minister hopes that Turkey’s domestic defense industry can meet all the army’s needs by 2023.
Odds and Ends
The USS Sterett, a guided-missile destroyer, and ships from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Navy) PLA(N) participated in a counter-piracy exercise earlier this month in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa. The drill aimed to “promote partnership, strength, and presence” by performing ship to ship search and seizure operations and various other naval operations.