U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Israel and meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz on May 13th, the day they are sworn in to lead the new government. The State Department has said that the meeting will focus on Covid-19 relief efforts as well as regional security issues related to Iran. Additionally, the annexation of parts of the West Bank will be discussed. The Trump administration has said it will support the move and recognize the land as Israeli if Israel chooses to move forward while keeping open the possibility of negotiating with Palestinian leaders. The joint U.S.-Israel working group on mapping has yet to determine potential borders.
Major-General Tamir Yadai will finish his term as commander of the Home Front Command on May 19 after serving three years in the position. Brigadier General Uri Gordon will take over the post with an accompanying promotion to major-general.
ThyssenKrupp delayed the delivery of the first of four Sa-ar 6 corvettes due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Following sea trials in March, the Israel military now expects INS Magen to enter service in late 2020. The construction of the four ships started in 2015 with an agreement between Israel and Germany of $467.25 million. The last ship will be delivered to Israel in 2021.
Israeli Military Technology
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Microsoft, and Soroka Medical Center are jointly developing a real-time dashboard of patient data to help fight Covid-19. The system uses a camera and information from healthcare monitoring devices to show doctors a snapshot of a patient’s health. AI (artificial intelligence) then processes the data for quick analysis. The device allows nurses to do their rounds from a single station where all the data is shown instead of going from room to room all day long.
IAI purchased the rights to the designs of the Zibar, Zmag, and ZD all-terrain vehicles. IAI’s ELTA division will add optional weapons to the vehicles and sell them to military customers.
Elbit introduced a new long-range maritime Search and Rescue (SaR) capabilities to its Hermes 900 UAV. The drone has been outfitted with up to four life-rafts on its wings while keeping its other detection and identification sensors. Elbit recently delivered the specially outfitted UAV to an undisclosed customer in South-East Asia.
Israeli startup Flytrex, which specializes in the delivery of goods through drones, announced on April 20 that it would be delivering groceries and other necessary items to the residents of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Flytrex is working with Ease Drones, a Grand Forks-based company as well as local authorities in order to deliver goods to the residents with the goal to curtail the spread of the new coronavirus in the town.
Foreign Military Sales
Greece’s Ministry of National Defense agreed to lease an undisclosed number of IAI’s Heron unmanned aerial vehicles for three years, with an option to buy. Athens plans to deploy the drones to monitor the country’s maritime boundaries.
The Philippines Department of National Defense cleared Elbit to start production of 12 ATMOS 155 mm/52 caliber gun-systems, issuing the company a “notice to proceed.” The ATMOS contract has a total value of $47.2 million.
The Israel Defense Forces will soon be equipped with Rafael’s Spike Firefly loitering munition. Rafael and the Israeli Ministry of Defense developed the weapon jointly. Infantry personnel in urban areas will use Firefly to engage a concealed enemy.
The Pentagon signed a contract with AeroVironment worth $76 million for its Switchblade man-portable loitering munitions. AeroVironment will deliver the Switchblade at the end of April 2023. Currently, the U.S. government is Aerovironment’s only customer for the Switchblade, but the company hopes to obtain a second NATO customer in 2020.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper proposed removing 400 U.S. soldiers who are stationed at the Sinai Peninsula. U.S troops have been stationed since 1981 as part of an international peacekeeping force of 1,100 soldiers in the Sinai to monitor the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. Israel and the U.S. State Department oppose the plan. Israel would like to see the force remain in order to keep Egypt’s military presence limited and the U.S. sees this force as a show of American power in the Middle East.
This report was compiled by JPC intern Sacha Warnod.