The U.S. and Israel held high-level military talks amid the backdrop of wider military cooperation in mid-October. The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, USMC Gen. Joseph Dunford, met with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on October 18th. The meeting was held as U.S. Air Force personnel joined their Israeli counterparts for Operation Blue Flag, a two week multinational training exercise in the Arava desert. Additionally, U.S. Army officers finished a one-month international course focused on conducting ground operations and the ethical dimensions of urban combat.
Washington could increase aid to Israel by as much as $1 billion annually, according to an anonymous military source cited in Haaretz. Both countries have restarted talks that the Israelis suspended during U.S. negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. Currently, the Jewish state receives approximately $3.1 billion in military aid.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met with USMC Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Oct. 18, 2015. (Photo: Israel Ministry of Defence)
Israel Military Technology
The Israeli Ministry of Economy is expected to approved the establishment of a R&D consortium, code named Meaged, that will develop new software to increase drone autonomy. Meaged’s goal is to create methods for drone swarms to avoid obstacles, plan routes, and make decisions at times of uncertainty. Elbit is expected to be one one of the group’s leading members.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced at the 66th International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem that it was building a new communication satellite. Named the Amos-E, the system is designed to be smaller and cost less than other spacecraft with similar performance. Weighing less than two tons, the satellites can be launched from low-cost conventional rockets and could remain in geosynchronous orbit for up to 15 years.
At a defense conference in Seoul, IAI presented a new system aimed at detecting and disrupting enemy UAVs. “Drone Guard” includes 3D radar array and electro-optical sensors for identifying drones, as well as an Electronic Attack system to jam the UAV’s communication and obstruct its flight.
Israel’s Tank Production Authority has built a prototype of an eight-wheel-drive armored fighting vehicle. The Eitan weighs only about half as much as the traditional Namers APCs, and will likely replace the aging M113s, with full scale production expected to begin in 2020. Next-generation active protection systems will be installed on the platform.
Bahrain and other Gulf Cooperation Council member states are currently negotiating to buy the Israeli-developed Iron Dome missile shield, reported Sky News. Military leaders in the Gulf have voiced concerns over a growing arsenal of Iranian missiles that could target small GCC states. The U.S. is helping to negotiate the deal, which may be worth tens of billions of dollars according to the report.
The British government will supply the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) with non-lethal military aid, including vehicles, body armor, and communications equipment as part of a $3.8 million assistance package to establish a Quick Reaction Force (QRF). Part of the QRF’s mission will be to develop a “fully-deployable command and control capability” that can contain ISIS threats on the Syrian border.
Kuwait signed three Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) agreements worth $2.7 billion with France to purchase missiles, light armored vehicles, and fast patrol boats. The deal also includes 24 Airbus EC725 Caracal medium helicopters. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2018.
The U.S. State Department notified Congress on October 20th that it had approved the possible foreign military sale of Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) ships worth an estimated $11.25 billion to Riyadh. Four Freedom Variant MMSC Littoral Combat Ships are included in the package with integrated combat management systems and a variety of missiles and launchers. Separately, the State Department also cleared a possible $495 million sale of nine UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia signed a $11.4 billion deal with the French government for energy, satellites, infrastructure, and other commercial trade during a visit by Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Included in the agreements are an order for 30 naval patrol boats and a deepening of political ties.
Following an agreement to purchase two French-made Mistral amphibious assault ships, Cairo has agreed to order 50 Kamov Ka-52K Katran and Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopters for the vessels. A Russian arms manufacturer hopes to sign a finalized contract for the aircraft early next year.
The Pentagon awarded Swiftships Shipbuilders a $10.9 million contract to provide one year of services to operate and upgrade the Iraqi navy ship repair facility at Umm Qasr Naval Base.
Odds and Ends
Troops from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed a training exercise with the French military on October 7th in Djibouti. The Marines and French soldiers participated in desert survival courses, simulated reconnaissance missions, and seizures to test their deployment readiness.