During Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s visit to the U.S., Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter reaffirmed Washington’s longstanding “iron clad” commitment to the Jewish State’s qualitative military edge (QME), which he described as “a cornerstone of our strategy in the Middle East.” Secretary Carter said that the Pentagon would intensify “the entire spectrum” of cooperation from large next-generation weaponry to cyber security.
FlightGlobal reported that Israel is seeking a new squadron of F-15SE Silent Eagles, as part of a compensation agreement with the U.S., following Washington’s deal with Tehran. Boeing has touted the F-15SE variant as a competitor to the F-35, with the company highlighting the jet’s stealth design and proven reliability.
Israeli defense officials have requested a full repair and overhaul facility from the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO). Three other facilities in the U.S., Asia, and Europe are planned for top to bottom maintenance, meaning Israel will not have total access to the plane’s internals, according to JPO head Lt. Gen Christopher Bogdan. Meanwhile, the Pentagon awarded Lockheed a $5.37 billion contract modification to manufacture 55 F-35 aircraft, including seven for Israel.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon speak to a class of U.S. and international students at National Defense University, Washington, D.C. (Photo: DoD)
The IAF has taken delivery of static Arrow 2 interceptor launchers designed to be stationed in fortified facilities, with two launchers expected to become operational early next year. All other IAI-made Arrow 2 launchers are placed on mobile units.
IAF C-130 heavy airlifters completed Southern Strike, a multi-branch exercise hosted by the U.S. Combat Readiness Training Center. Israeli airmen were the only foreign personnel allowed to participate.
After eight months of planning, the U.S., Greek, Polish, and Israeli air forces completed Blue Flag, the largest two-week training exercise ever hosted by the Jewish State. The drills involved F-15 and F-16 flying almost 250 sorties aimed at practicing mid-air refueling, attacks against moving targets, and evading surface-to-air missiles.
Israeli Military Technology
uVision aims to sell its new Hero-30 drone to the IDF once testing of the UAV has been completed. Man-portable, the Hero-30’s wings fold out to support a camera and a thermal imager. The UAV can fly up to 115 mph and for 30 minutes, enough time for a nearby operator to locate, identify, and destroy a target using a one-pound kamikaze warhead. uVision hopes that the drone can fill an important niche in urban, anti-insurgent operations and will reduce the risk of collateral damage.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has begun training its Patriot Air Defense division on detecting and combating UAV threats. New radar units will be installed for the division’s regional control units and the IAF’s air control command will also go through similar training.
Israel’s first laser-based, counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) system called Iron Beam is expected to enter service by the end of the year. With a range of 1.2 miles, military planners hope the new system will be a more cost effective way of shooting down incoming projectiles. Israeli officials plan on selling Iron Beam technologies to other countries in order to recoup some of the development costs.
In the next few months, the IDF plans on converting aging Merkava MK 2 battle tanks, produced in the 1980s, into secondary support vehicles as it stops training troops on them. Engineers have already created one prototype for logistics, but also plan to use the former tanks for casualty evacuation and command stations.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) unveiled its early warning S-Band mega ELM-2090S Spectra array. The system will complement the Ultra UHF radar array unit unveiled earlier this year, enabling Israel to accurately track aerial objects including ballistic missiles, satellites, and “low Radar-Cross-Section (RCS) class (stealth) targets.”
The U.S. Air Force deployed six F-15Cs from England to the Incirlik Air Force Base in southern Turkey. Commanders say the deployed fighters will “conduct combat air patrols in Turkish airspace” and show the coalition’s “resolve to defend the sovereignty of Turkish airspace.”
The Turkish Navy concluded Egemen 2015, a joint training operation with the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and parts of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The U.S. Navy announced that the exercise, near Foca, Turkey, was “designed to increase tactical proficiencies and interoperability among participants.”
The U.S. delivered four F-16 multirole fighter jets to Cairo West Air Force Base on October 29th. The jets can be used for “reconnaissance missions, air-to-ground attacks, and air-to-air engagement,” according to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
Egypt’s Ministry of Defence announced the country restarted final assembly of General Dynamic-manufactured M1A1 Abrams tank kits. Transfer of the U.S.-made kits were previously suspended following the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
The UAE plans to rotate out its first deployment of troops in Yemen in the coming weeks, as military planners hope to advance on the capital of Sanaa after securing the port city of Aden from Shiite-rebels.
Qatar and the United States finalized a $160 million agreement with Raytheon to install, sustain, and train personnel at a Qatar Air and Missile Defense Operations Center.