Avigdor Liberman made his first visit to Washington as Israel’s Defense Minister, meeting with Defense Secretary Ash Carter at the Pentagon to discuss regional security challenges and mutual defense cooperation.
A senior Israeli diplomat characterized negotiations to finalize a new Memorandum of Understanding, as being “very close” to completion. The official said that Israel would not wait for a new U.S. President to complete the 10 year defense package, which could be provide up to $5 billion annually in military assistance.
The Israeli government liberalized cyber-related export policies to enable easier licensing and technology transfers for non-military and defense-related firms. The new policy aims to enhance the cyber industry’s prosperity without sacrificing security.
Israel’s first F-35 rolled off the Lockheed Martin production line in Texas on June 23rd. Israel will be the only nation outside the U.S. to fully operate the fighter when it takes its first flight this December. Additionally, 12 Israeli fighter pilots will travel to the U.S. in July to begin a 100-day Air Force training program for the F-35. The U.S. ground-based training allows the pilots to later become operationally certified in Israel.
Israel and the U.S. signed a defense declaration of intent to enhance cooperation on cybersecurity, including establishing real-time connectivity through computer emergency response teams. Israel will be one of the first to join Washington’s Automated Indicator Sharing Program, which allows for cyber sharing of threat indicators.
Former defense secretary Leon Panetta confirmed that President Obama questioned the need for upholding Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME), after an arm sales to Saudi Arabia stalled. Panetta noted that protecting Israel’s QME is still a Pentagon priority, despite the technical challenges.
Israeli Military Technology
Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) revealed RoBattle, a seven ton semi-autonomous rover at the Eurosatory defense exhibition in Paris. The unmanned robotic system has six wheels for stability and can be equipped with “manipulator arms, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) sensors and radars, and remotely controlled weapons,” according to IAI.
U.S. weapons manufacturer Raytheon announced it will join iHLS, a defense startup accelerator. The firm will join IAI, Incubit, and Elbit to create a more vibrant technology incubator allowing new high-tech startups to gain funding and expertise.
Israeli Arms Sales
Israel Military Industries (IMI) received a $400 million U.S. army contract to produce mobile bridging launching programs for M1A2 main battle tanks. IMI will work in conjunction with U.S.-based DRS to build 273 systems.
Israel Military Industries (IMI) signed a $39 million deal with American arms distributors on June 21st to supply the U.S. civilian market with ammunition to be used for hunting, shooting ranges, and sports-related purposes. The deal is part of IMI’s strategy to direct one-third of company sales toward the civilian market.
Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems completed the first export deliveries of its Spike SR (short range) missiles to at least one unnamed foreign customer. The shoulder-fired missile is designed for precision strikes against moving and stationary targets.
Qatar is close to signing a nearly $5.6 billion agreement to purchase Italian corvettes and missile boats. Leonardo-Finmeccanica could provide naval guns, radars, and electronics as part of the deal.
Turkey launched its 3rd corvette during a ceremony on June 19th, part of the country’s aim to introduce fully self-sufficient defense systems by 2023.