The U.S. and Israeli navies concluded their annual bilateral exercise, Noble Melinda, in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Haifa on July 23rd. The drills included explosive ordinance disposal, diving and salvage operations, recompression chamber operations, as well as other subaquatic maneuvers.
The Israeli Air Force is completing preparations for participation in the American Red Flag exercise to take place at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Pilots will take part in mock aerial battles in an unfamiliar area and practice long-distance flight from Israel to the U.S., including aerial refueling and rest stops along the way. IAF personnel will also be able to train alongside other European air forces.
SkyShield missile defense systems have been installed on Israeli commercial flights servicing the southern city of Eilat. Israeli defense officials ordered the deployment two weeks ago, after an Islamic State-affiliated group conducted a major offensive against the Egyptian military in Sinai.
File photo showing an airplane taking off from Eilat’s airport, December 2012. (Photo: Moshe Shai)
Israeli Military Sales
Israel and Greece signed a status of forces agreement on July 19th, increasing their bilateral defense cooperation. The agreement regulates legal protocols for Israeli and Greek military personnel when they are in each other’s territory. IDF training in Greece has grown notably in recent years and included a number of large-scale joint air force and naval exercises.
On July 23rd, Israel completed the delivery of a number of retired U.S.-supplied Cobra combat helicopters to Jordan to aid the Hashemite Kingdom fend off insurgent threats on the Syrian and Iraqi borders. According to an anonymous U.S. official, the handover, totaling some 16 helicopters, began last year with Washington’s approval.
Argentina is negotiating the purchase of approximately 18 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Block 60 fighters after a long period of “preliminary evaluation”. The Block 60 is the latest upgraded version of the Kfir, which was used by the Israeli Air Force between 1975 and 1994. The upgraded fighter will carry an Elta Systems EL/M-2032 active electronically scanned array radar, which can operate in simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-surface modes and is capable of tracking up to 64 targets.
Israel Military Technology
The IDF will unveil its first mobile sirens after a year and a half of development and production. Named Rotem, the units can be audible to soldiers on the front lines up to 1300 feet away and will warn of incoming rockets and mortar fire.
Existence of a unique Israeli weapon, a mobile anti-tank guided missile launcher disguised as an ordinary M60 Patton, has been confirmed by the release of recently declassified Israeli military documents. The Pereh tank has been kept secret for about 30 years, but beneath the shell of a tank turret the vehicle carries 12 Tammuz (Spike) anti-tank guided missiles.
The Pentagon gave Bell Helicopter a $55 million cost-plus-fixed-fee foreign military sales contract for technical advice, maintenance, and logistics support on Iraqi helicopters.
An Israeli-made Kfir Block 60. (Photo. U.S. Air Force)
Iraqi security forces received a shipment of 30 Maxxpro mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles with mine-roller attachments. The MRAPs are part of the United States’ Iraq Train and Equip Fund meant to assist in the fight against the Islamic State.
Military aid from both Saudi Arabia and the United States has increased the firepower capabilities of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) by about 30 to 40 percent in recent years. Washington has given the LAF $1 billion over the last eight years claiming that bolstering the armed forces will make them better prepared in the fight against Islamic State.
The State Department approved the possible Foreign Military Sale of TOW 2A anti-tank and bunker busting missiles and associated equipment to Lebanon valued at $245 million.
Egypt took delivery of three Rafale fighter jets from France, the first of 24 warplanes sold in a $5.6 billion deal earlier this year. Cairo is hoping to boost its military presence as it faces an unstable Libya to the west and threats from militants linked to the Islamic State group in its Sinai Peninsula to the east.
Odds and Ends
The Tunisian government is erecting a 135 mile fortified smart security fence along part of its border with Libya to prevent the flow of jihadist fighters and weapons.