Home Alliance Tracker Alliance Tracker: July 23, 2019

Alliance Tracker: July 23, 2019

President Reuven Rivlin (left) meets with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in Seoul, July 15, 2019 (Photo: Kobi Gideon/ Israeli Government Press Office)


Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in in Seoul in mid-July. The two countries resumed talks centered on South Korea’s interest in acquiring the Iron Dome missile defense system and expanding trade between the two countries, including signing memorandums of understanding in the education and energy fields. The two states additionally expressed interest in finalizing a Free Trade Agreement. In November, Seoul stated its intention to purchase two advanced radar defense systems from Israel, as a measure to protect against potential strikes from North Korea.  

Israel and the U.S.

U.S. Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) will be allowed entry to Israel when they visit in a few weeks. Some Republicans speculated that the two representatives would be denied entry after both women issued a series of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish remarks. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that as a nod to his relationship with President Trump and the alliance between Israel and the United States, the representatives would be admitted.

U.S.-based Firefly Aerospace and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) reached an agreement in early July to build the next Beresheet spacecraft named “Genesis”. Beresheet was an Israeli Aerospace spacecraft co-developed with an Israeli start-up, SpaceIL,  intended to land on the moon. The innovation orbited the moon multiple times before crashing when attempting to land, but the technological development impressed many in the field. Representatives for Israel Aerospace Industries have expressed their excitement to partner with Firefly, but the cost of the deal has not been disclosed. 

Israel acquired two more U.S. F-35 fighter jets in mid-July, bringing its total number of fifth-generation stealth aircraft in military possession to 16. Netanyahu has stated that the jets could be instrumental in protecting Israel from the growing threat in Iran. It remains to be seen whether Israel will invest in more F-35 planes or instead purchase an undisclosed number of the upgraded version of  the F-15. 

Foreign Military Sales

Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems (KRAS) finalized a $100 million deal with Israeli Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to provide 1,000 Barak-8 MRSAM missile kits for the Indian military. Rafael has developed a Make-in-India initiative, contributing to an extensive history of collaboration with India’s defense industries. The company has invested over $250 million through the initiative.  

IAI announced in mid-July that it signed $50 million deal with India to provide a missile system to the Indian Navy. The deal includes maintenance and other services related to the missile as well as a partnership with India’s MDL Shipyard.  

The U.S. Defense Department is considering purchasing Israeli Hero-120 anti-tank drones. The Pentagon has requested that Congress sign off on a $6.9 million transfer for the Israeli technology as part of a $2.8 billion budget plan proposed last month. The 27 pounds drone is designed to loiter in the air up to an hour before striking with one of a variety of 7 pounds warheads.

The  United Nations is investing $256 million in Israeli products and services, the highest amount to date spent in a deal with Israel. Israeli companies Teva, Paz, Mer and Odis, as well as the Defense Ministry, all signed onto deals with the United Nations. Multiple projects focus on military defense and development in Africa. The amount has steadily increased, reflecting the increased efforts of Israel to engage with the United Nations and the superior quality of Israeli innovation. Such U.N. purchases started at $48 million in 2016, followed respectively by $51 million and $66 million in the next two years.  

Elbit participated in a F-21 suppliers’ conference hosted by Lockheed Martin. Elbit was included because the company supplies advanced avionics to Lockheed Martin. The event was part of Lockheed Martin’s pitch to sell updated F-16 multi-role combat aircraft to India. 

Colombia is seeking to replace its fleet of combat aircraft, the Israeli Kfir jets. Sweden-based defense company Saab has offered 12 of its Gripen fighter jets as a replacement, while Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has proposed upgrading the Colombian fleet to Kfir Next-Generation. Lockheed Martin is also competing for the business, looking to sell its F-16 fighter jets. The Kfir planes are currently used in Sri Lanka, Colombia and Ecuador, and IAI will seek a deal to continue supplying Colombia with the jets. 

Regional Developments

The U.S. House has voted to block the $8.1 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The White House intended to sell Saudi Arabia and the UAE smart bombs and similar components meant to provide protection from the growing threat of Iran and its Houthi surrogates in Yemen. Democrats voting against the bill cited a reassertion of congressional power, claiming the deal was an abuse of executive authority. Neither the House nor the Senate blocked the bill with a supermajority, so President Trump’s veto is now anticipated.

Jewish Policy Center intern Catherine Goodwin compiled this report.