Israel Allies Watch
Israel, Greece, and the U.S. concluded their fifth annual joint naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea named Noble Dina. The drills included the U.S. destroyer Laboon and subsurface and air elements from the Greek and Israel, as well as a Greek frigate. According to Defense News, the exercise was, “aimed at honing maritime proficiencies and interoperability for potential joint missions.”
Israel’s military exports decreased from $6.5 billion in 2013 to $5.6 billion in 2014. Officials attributed the decline to lower procurement budgets in developed markets.
Elbit is creating a specialized electronic warfare unit called CYBERBIT to speed the development new product offerings.
Last week, Israel hosted a three-day, closed-door conference attended by eight top NATO air defense commanders and senior staff. The delegation was briefed on Israel’s aerial achievements in last summer’s Gaza war, including Iron Dome’s 90% interception rate and the successful interception of two UAVs by Israeli Patriots. The countries agreed to hold similar events each year and the 40-strong delegation was also briefed by executives from Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael and Israel Military Industries.
Iron Dome launching an intercepter in response to a rocket fired from Gaza on November 18, 2012. (Photo: AFP)
Israel Military Technology
Israel’s Defense Ministry order several additional RT Skystar 300 surveillance aerostats. The earth tethered lighter-than-air balloons can fly up to 1,500 feet and use electro-optical payload to provide real time video to troops on the ground.
Amid the worry in Jerusalem over the Obama administration’s deal with Iran, the Pentagon notified Congress that it will sell $1.9 billion of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) to the Israeli Air Force. Included in the foreign military sale (FMS) will be 14,500 tail kits for Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), 3,000 Hellfire missiles, and other medium range air-to-air missiles.
The IDF’s 401st Armored Brigade’s reconnaissance company has adopted unarmored Humvees as its preferred mode of transport in combat zones. The decision was made after using Humvees armed with FN MAG machine guns to move wounded soldiers to safety during last summer’s Gaza War. Two operational squads have been created for rapid, mainly nocturnal high-speed maneuvers that make little noise and maintain a low profile.
The IDF will restock its supplies of IM26 nonsensitive hand grenades that were tested for the first time during Operation Protective Edge last summer. The grenades, designed by Israel Military Industries, do not arm until the pin is removed and can even withstand a bullet’s impact.
Israel is seeking an increase in annual U.S. security assistance, from the current $3.1 billion per year to $4.2-4.5 billion per year, through 2028. Under the agreement signed in 2007, U.S. foreign military financing to Israel rose from $2.4 billion to $3.1 billion. Other assistance, such as prepositioned US materiel in Israel, funding for various anti-missile defense programs, or the forthcoming anti-tunnel program, is on top of the annual assistance.
The U.S. has agreed to sell Turkey four MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) Block 1B Baseline 2 systems and overhaul 17 MK 15 Phalanx CIWS Block 0 systems to the Block 1B Baseline 2 configuration at a cost of $310 million. The sale will enhance the Turkish Navy’s self-defense capabilities for surface combatants.
The Turkish-made Karayel UAV achieved a 10 hour, 50 minute endurance flight, the longest ever for a drone produced in Turkey. The drone was tested during a navy exercise code-named Sea Wolf and is equipped with a high resolution 1080p video camera with 50x optical zoom.
Turkey will outfit its drones with a new mini laser-guided rocket, the Bozok. The 79-centimeter Bozok (“white arrow” in Turkish) weighs 16 kilograms, can hit targets at a maximum distance of six kilometers, and will be an ideal attack asset for the Anka S, Turkey’s first indigenous drone.
Russia and Turkey have tested a jointly produced short-range air defense system, according to Rosoboronexport. The project was developed by integrating Russia’s IGLA system with a Turkish combat platform. The portable anti-aircraft missile system IGLA was designed to destroy tactical aircraft, helicopters, and small targets such as cruise missiles.
An expedited shipment of 2,000 AT-4s, a lightweight shoulder-fired weapon useful for stopping car bombs before they approach, will arrive in Iraq as soon as next week, the Pentagon announced. The Pentagon also announced that as of early April, the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS had cost $2.1 billion.
The State Department approved the $1.9 billion sale of 10 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters to Saudi Arabia, the first step in a major modernization of the Saudi navy’s eastern fleet.
Two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. (Photo: US Navy)
The United Arab Emirates has placed a $174 million order for another consignment of Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS). The UAE already has the ATACMS, which is a 610 mm precision-guided surface-to-surface missile with a range of 300 km that can be fired by either the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) or the lighter High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
Odds and Ends
Over 3,000 U.S. and partner-nation troops gathered in Morocco for the annual African Lion exercise, the largest in Africa. The exercise focus on command and control, live-fire tactics, and basic patrolling skills.
President Obama designated Tunisia a “major non-NATO ally”, a restricted status qualifying it for certain privileges supporting defense and security cooperation. Tunisia joins Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Morocco as other major non-NATO allies in the Middle East. The Administration also delivered 52 Humvee military vehicles and a patrol boat to help Tunisia counter jihadi violence and ward off the insecurity of neighboring Libya.
Nine Russian and Chinese vessels conducted a joint military drill in the Mediterranean Sea last week, the first joint military exercise in the region by both countries.