The USS Laboon and USS Ross, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers with the 6th Fleet, docked in Haifa on March 29th. Sailors on the Mediterranean-based ships met with seamen from the Israeli Navy, strengthening their partnership with the IDF and promoting security and stability in the region. Meanwhile, seven senior IDF officials also visited the Nimitz-class carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in Italy.
U.S. and Israeli officials announced on April 1st that their joint missile defense system, David’s Sling, passed a series of recent tests. The IDF hopes David Sling will counter the medium and long range missiles Hezbollah uses to threaten Israel from Syria and Lebanon. Rafael and Raytheon expect the system to be operational next year.
IDF officers visit the USS Theodore Roosevelt. (Photo: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)
Israeli Military Sales
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) won a contract worth “tens of millions of dollars” to provide an unnamed African military with four Super Dvora MK 3 patrol boats. Delivery of the ships, which can be used to guard littoral waters, is expected in 2016. IAI will provide two other undisclosed countries with nearly 100 RAM MK3 Light Armored Vehicles.
Brazilian firm Avionics Services, has started production of Candor, a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV based on the IAI Heron. A joint partnership between Avionics Services and IAI’s Brazilian subsidiary, European Advanced Technology, plan to market the drone to military and public safety customers in Brazil and throughout the region.
Germany’s Federal Security Council approved the export of a fifth submarine to the Israeli Navy. Berlin plans to cover one third of the vessel’s $530 million cost as part of the country’s defense aid to Jerusalem.
Israeli Military Technology
On March 29th, officials with the Israeli Navy told reporters that Israel’s three oldest German-made Dolphin class submarines had been upgraded with new weapons and communication systems. The enhancements ensure that all of the navy’s submarines are equipped with the same capabilities as newer subs.
The Israeli government plans to train all infantry soldiers for underground warfare, in 10 special facilities now under construction. Simulators will help troops prepare for fighting within tunnels, how to map a tunnel’s route, and controlled demolition. Additionally, the elite Yahalom Combat Engineering corps will triple the size of its Samur company, the unit specializing in tunnel warfare.
The IDF is in the final stages of finding a replacement for its 155mm M109 self-propelled howitzers, according to a senior source in the Artillery Corps. Procurement specialists hope to find more efficient platforms that can maintain a rate of fire of more than three shells per minute without requiring a 10-man crew.
Saudi Arabia is preparing to take delivery of its first batch of 24 Boeing AH-6i Little Bird light attack and reconnaissance helicopters, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly. The aircraft is equipped with Gatling guns, Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, laser-guided rockets, and other advanced infrared sensors.
Avionics for the Systems Hawk T-165 Advanced Jet Trainer are being locally produced in Saudi Arabia, marking the first time high tech components from the Kingdom will be installed in aircraft manufactured in the UK.
The Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin a $175 million foreign military sales contract to supply the UAE with 24 Army Tactical Missile Systems T2K Unitary M57 guided missile and launching assemblies. The missile batteries are expected to be completed by 2018.
The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is operating reconnaissance missions near Syria’s border with Lebanon using two unmanned Aerosonde Mk 4.7 UAVs in cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces. U.S. officials hope to gain intelligence about Sunni militant groups, such as al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, fighting in the area. The drones are housed in Hamat Air Base on Mediterranean Sea, just north of Beirut.
France will stagger deliveries of $3 billion worth of military aid to Beirut over the next five years, contrary to previous reports. While, some weapons are expected to start arriving next month, much of the most advanced weaponry will be delivered during the “final phase”, according to the Lebanese army.
An Aerosonde Mk 4.7 UAV. (Photo: ESL Defence)
The White House announced that it is lifting an 18-month long moratorium on U.S. arms sales to Egypt. Approximately $1.3 billion in annual U.S. foreign defense assistance will be restored to Egypt, reestablishing Cairo’s position as the second largest recipient of military aid after Israel. Washington will now release 12 Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft, 20 Boeing Harpoon missiles, and up to 125 General Dynamics M1A1 Abrams tanks that have long been requested by the Egyptian military. Ten highly sought-after Apache ground attack helicopters were also delivered to Egypt’s armed forces from the U.S. in late 2014.
The Pentagon is providing refueling support for Gulf Cooperation Council aircraft flying missions over Yemen. Currently, U.S. Central Command operates one daily tanker mission, but officials stress they will not enter Yemeni airspace. During the first mission, a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker provided fuel to a UAE operated F-15 Eagle and a F-16 Fighting Falcon.