Home Alliance Tracker March 24th Edition

March 24th Edition

Jewish Policy Center

Israeli Military Sales

Following a recent meeting between Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development, officials confirmed that the two countries would seek to deepen defense ties and may jointly develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and counter improvised explosive devices (C-IEDs) technologies.

The U.S. Army approved the Skystar 180 for procurement after successfully testing the aerial surveillance system during the annual Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE). The Israeli firm RT makes the balloon used to lift a CONTROP-made, multi-sensor payload that can operate up to 600 meters in the air.

The Pentagon awarded Elbit System’s American subsidiary a $73.4 million contract to supply U.S. Marines with advanced laser rangefinders. Infantry soldiers will use the system to perform imaging and navigation from concealed positions.  

Israel’s Elbit will supply U.S. Marines with a new laser system. (Photo: Elbit)

Israel Watch

Rafael announced a $90 million profit in 2014. Additionally, the firm posted $2.9 billion for new orders, with a backlog of about $5 billion in arms sales. Executives attributed the growth in high tech systems to Israel’s war in Gaza, foreign joint-ventures, and demands for defense exports.

The Israeli government says it will sell Israel Military Industries (IMI) as early as this fall to the highest bidder after years of debate over privatizing the nation’s oldest defense firm.

Israel’s elite ground units are receiving enhanced training on tunnel warfare following Operation Protective Edge last summer. According to Army Radio reports, the IDF has built mock tunnels for exercises and troops have been given specialize equipment for fighting underground.

Israeli Military Technology

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced a new surveillance version of the G280 business jet built in cooperation with Gulfstream Aerospace. The specialized aircraft can hold four system operators in the cabin and will have six hours of endurance with significant lower operating costs than other larger platforms.

IMI is continuing work on CombatGuard, a lightly armored 4×4 that could replace Humvees in the future. The new vehicle comes with enhanced off-road capabilities such as a 300 horsepower engine, a 2.5 foot vertical obstacle clearance, and a 93 mph top speed. Other defensive measures included a remote controlled machine gun, a reinforced monocoque capsule, and an active defense system capable of destroying incoming RPGs.

Yemen Watch

U.S. officials announced that the Pentagon has lost track of about $500 million in American- supplied military weaponry to Yemen, including small arms, armored vehicles, and night-vision goggles. Officials worry such hardware could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda terrorists or Iranian backed militias. Approximately $125 million in additional military aid, which was said to include drones, planes, and jeeps, will be rerouted to other countries. Additionally, all U.S. military counter-terrorism and special forces operatives have been withdrawn following unrest in the country.

Jordan Watch

The State Department approved the possible sale of two 35-meter Coastal Patrol Boats and associated training and logistical support at a cost of $80 million.

Republicans in Congress are pressuring the Obama administration to lend surplus U.S. Air Force drones to Jordan as Amman continues to combat IS extremists on its borders. Specifically, the USAF could lend extra MQ-1 Predator drones currently being replaced by the more advanced MQ-9 Reapers.

Turkey Watch

Continuing their push to become self-sufficient in defense manufacturing, the Turkish engine manufacturer Tümosan signed a deal with the government to produce new tank engines. According to officials, about 30 motors should be produced the first year of the contract with a total cost of around $190 million.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and other Turkish leaders attended the inauguration of Aselsan’s new radar and electronic warfare factory. Turkey’s biggest defense contractor spent approximately $157 million on the facility, which will create new technologies for land, air, naval, and unmanned platforms.

The Turkish Air Force decommissioned its fleet of aging RF-4E fighter jets following a series of accidents over two weeks that have killed six pilots.

Sikorsky’s weapon upgrade kit on a Black Hawk helicopter. (Photo: Sikorsky)

Gulf Watch

The Czech government approved the sale of 15 surplus L-159 fighter jets to the Iraqi government at a cost of nearly $30 million.

Sikorsky’s installation of advance weaponry on 23 of the UAE’s 70 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters is almost complete, according to Robert Kokorda vice president of sales at the company. Defense News reports the upgraded aircraft will include “optical and laser-guided anti-armor missiles, Hellfire and emerging laser-guided rockets.”

About 3,000 U.S. troops will join the the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for a series of drills called Eagle Resolve 2015. Defense officials say the exercises include the U.S. 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and sailors on USS Fort McHenry. Planning for the drills began early last year and are not in response to any specific threat, but will test operational readiness. A unit of six A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack aircraft, and more than 120 support personnel with the 190th Fighter Squadron arrived at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar to participate in the upcoming coalition exercises.