Israeli Military Sales
Major Israeli defense contractors displayed some of their latest innovations at the Aero India 2015 conference in Bangalore earlier this month, helping to highlight Israel’s growing defense partnership with India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured the exhibition with visiting Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Rafael showcased its Spike 250 electro-optical homing air-to-surface guided bomb, the C-Dome Iron Dome-based missile interceptor adapted for ships, and numerous other missiles and drones.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a cooperation agreement with the Indian firm Alpha Design Technologies to produce new miniature drones. The two companies will market and produce the hand-launched Bird-Eye 400 and 650 for Indian buyers. Currently, there are defense contracts totalling around $1.5 billion under negotiation between Israel and India including the sale of two specially configured Phalcon AEW&C and four EL/M-2083.
Israeli Defense Minister Ya’alon meets with Indian Prime Minister Modi on February 18, 2015. (Israel MoD)
Israeli Military Technology
IAI completed testing its M-19HD optics array, increasing the camera sensitivity of unmanned aerial vehicles, such as the Heron-1. The new system enables day/night surveillance in any weather condition, increases image stabilization, and provides better signal processing to improve the surveillance capabilities and situational awareness of long-endurance drones.
The IDF is installing Aquashield Diver Detection Sonar along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. The system, which can detect underwater objects, should help the military locate infiltrators before they come ashore. A similar DIST-built sonar is already deployed near Gaza, where Hamas commandos raided a beach near Kibbutz Zikim last summer.
Israel’s Home Front Command has begun updating the country’s civil alert infrastructure with a newer, more sophisticated network of air raid sirens designed to make alerts more localized. Civil defense planners hope assigning IP addresses to individual sirens, will allow them to alert specific neighborhoods to rocket fire instead of entire cities. More accurate radar arrays will also assist in sending cell phone alerts to communities under attack.
The IDF will begin deploying armed unmanned ground vehicles to patrol the border with Gaza later this year. Officials plan to replace the Guardium with Border Patroller, a modified Ford F-350 Super Duty Truck, manufactured through the joint venture between IAI and Elbit Systems.
The Pentagon awarded BAE Systems a $221 million contract to perform support and logistics for F-16s in Egypt, Oman, Morocco and other countries. Meanwhile, a firm associated with Pratt & Whitney will remanufacture F-16 engines for Egypt, Jordan and other U.S. allies at a cost of $17 million to foreign governments.
Egypt signed an agreement with France to buy 24 Rafale fighter jets, a naval frigate, and other support services in a deal worth $5.7 billion.
War on ISIS
The U.S. military is constructing a new airbase near Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, according to reports from Peshmerga fighters. Several Black Hawk helicopters are already deployed to the facility, which will support surveillance missions, but not attack aircraft.
Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot was sworn in as Chief of the IDF’s General Staff on February 16th, replacing Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. Eisenkot has served in the military since 1978 and led infantry units in the Army’s northern command. His first act as IDF Chief extended the terms of other senior military officers, enabling a younger generation of major-generals to replace them in 2016.
Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz announced that Ankara does not plan to integrate a new Chinese made missile defense system into NATO’s radar and response network. In September 2013, Turkey elected to purchase $3.4 billion in missile interceptors from the U.S.-sanctioned China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp.
Troops walk in front of a cargo plane at Fort Carson. (Photo: Fort Carson Facebook)
More than 4,000 troops with from Fort Carson, CO will be deployed to Kuwait, creating the largest contingent of U.S. armored and infantry soldiers in the Middle East. The 3rd Combat Brigade will take Bradley fighting vehicles with them.
A Russian or Ukrainian cargo vessel reportedly delivered three Sukhois jets to Houthis militiamen in Yemen. According to media reports, the planes were likely purchased from Belarus.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt conducted a joint naval exercise in the Red Sea named Morgan 15. The trainings, which included several destroyers, missile boats, anti-submarine aircraft, and special forces, focused on countering smuggling and piracy operations and preparing sailors for interceptions at sea.
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia restarted talks to supply the Kingdom with new ships for its Eastern Fleet. According to Defense News, Saudi Arabia delivered a formal letter of request detailing their wish to spend over $20 billion on four new frigates with anti-aircraft capabilities, 12 corvette class ships, 24 patrol boats, and helicopters. Separately, reports also suggest Riyadh is trying to acquire new surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and British-made cruise missiles to counter Iran’s growing military capability.