Israeli defense officials asked Congress for an additional $317 million in aid for fiscal year 2016 missile defense programs. Israel’s Missile Defense Organization Director Yair Ramati outlined his case to lawmakers in early February, arguing that the $158 million already designated for missile assistance was inadequate given the first scheduled manufacturing run of David’s Sling and Arrow-3 interceptors next year.
The Israeli Army is doubling part orders for Merkava tanks and Namer armored personnel carriers (APCs) ahead of an expected increase in orders for the combat vehicles. The latest Merkava IV tank includes approximately one million parts from 200 different manufacturers around the country.
Israeli Military Technology
Elbit Systems showcased its new ClearVision helicopter helmet at the Heli-Expo in Orlando, Florida earlier this month. The helmet will include a head-up display that integrates an enhanced vision system (EVS) and a synthetic vision system (SVS) from a multispectral camera, enabling pilots to have improved situational awareness and better visibility in dark or stormy conditions.
An example of an image provided through Elbit’s ClearVision helmet. (Photo: Elbit)
The IDF is creating a smartphone application that will enable field commanders to send a target’s location and pick a weapons platform, such as a UAV, to destroy it.
Israel’s Air Force is considering buying a Boeing 707 simulator to help prepare tanker boom operators for refueling missions. Currently, IAF crews train on U.S. McDonnell Douglas KC-10s, which have a different configuration than the Israeli 707.
Israeli Military Sales
Israel and India agreed to create a new medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) system for the Indian Army at a projected cost of $1.5 billion. The new system will replace New Delhi’s aging Russian-developed air defense and would complement a MRSAM project already under development with the Indian Air Force.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Defense signed a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli government. While details of the agreement were not released, industry analysis expect an increase in “military-to-military activities, technology transfers, and industrial partnerships.”
Russia began delivering Antey-2500 air defense batteries to Egypt. The system, modeled after the S-300V4, can target ballistic missiles and aircraft traveling up to 250 miles away. Moscow has also considered selling S-300 technology to Iran.
Gulf countries announced a number of new acquisitions at the IDEX defense conference in Abu Dhabi in late February. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed 33 deals worth about $5 billion, including the procurement of two Boeing C-17 Globemaster III and nine AW139 AugustaWestland helicopters. Saudi Arabia and Qatar separately committed to ordering Lockheed Martin’s Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile defense system, however negotiations for the finalized contracts may take years to complete.
The conference also featured a new military hardware designed by emerging Arab defense contractors, including Emirates Defense Technology’s Enigma 8×8 infantry fighting vehicle and Abu Dhabi Ship Building’s Ghannatha Phase II multi-role combat vessel. Recent industry growth in the area can be partly attributed to America’s perceived disinterest in the Middle East and worries over Iran’s aggression.
The Enigma on display at IDEX with a BMP-3 turret. (Photo: Patrick Allen)
Saudi Arabia sent a second formal letter of request (LoR) to the U.S. government, only a month after its initial appeal to procure $16 billion in new ships for the Kingdom’s Eastern Fleet.
Jordanian defense officials announced interest in procuring new UAV systems at IDEX. Amman wants to support operations against Islamic State militants without putting it pilots at risk.
Odds and Ends
Italy began annual defense exercises known as Mare Aperto, or Open Sea, off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea. While the trainings are not specifically designed to counter threats from the North African country, improved operational readiness will help the Italian Navy confront a wide range of maritime challenges.
Algeria plans to assemble 200 kits of Russian made T-90 tanks under a deal valued at nearly $1 billion, according to Russian defense sources. The new tanks will be assembled at a facility already accustomed to repairing other Russian-bought tanks.
The Tunisian military will take delivery of eight U.S.-manufactured Black Hawk attack helicopters in the second half of 2015. The new acquisition should help Tunis launch ground operations against a growing tide of radical jihadists in the country.