Home Alliance Tracker Alliance Tracker: June 23, 2020

Alliance Tracker: June 23, 2020

The Seagull Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV). (Photo: Elbit)


Israel reported on June 21 that 145 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the span of 24 hours. There are currently 4,778 active cases in the country, 40 of which are in serious condition. Israel has had a total of 20,869 cases,15,714 of which have recovered.

King Abdullah II of Jordan told U.S. lawmakers he is convincing Mahmoud Abbas to pursue peace talks with Israel. The King also warned the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committee that Israel’s unilateral application of sovereignty to the West Bank would create support for Hamas and see his country revisit the current deals it has with the Jewish State. Jordanian sources said the 1994 peace treaty between the Hashemite Kingdom and Jerusalem will be in jeopardy if the extension of sovereignty goes through. 

The House and the Senate are trying to “establish a US-Israel Operations Technology Working Group.” This collaboration will allow the U.S. to benefit from new technologies that the Jewish State will produce a forum for various government and military stakeholders. This will further consolidate the relationship between the two countries.

United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said it was possible to promote relations with Israel in some areas such as Covid-19 and technology while still being in disagreement politically. Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors has improved recently in response to Iran’s hegemonic threat to the region.

Israeli Military Technology

The Israeli Air Force is set to upgrade a F-35 fighter jet that will arrive in the country on July 4. The improved F-35 will function as a “target generator” for ground and naval forces with its built-in antennas, sharing information with the command and control systems. The Israeli companies upgrading the F-35 have not unveiled much information behind the technology allowing such performances.

Israel’s Ministry of Defense and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced they successfully tested a 3D-printed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in December 2019. The “Skysprinter” is made of only 26 parts and has the operational advantage of being easily modified based on “operational feedback from commanders on the ground.”

IAI is in advanced talks to acquire Bluebird, a small drone manufacturing company known for producing small UAVs including a model that is able to take-off and land vertically. The company is valued at approximately $29 million, according to people close to the matter. The Indian Army as well as the Israeli military are significant clients of Bluebird. The company has also sold its products to several European countries as well as Chile and Mexico.

Foreign Military Sales

SIBAT, the military export unit of Israel’s Ministry of Defense reported $7.2 billion in foreign defense sales in 2019 down from a high of $9.4 billion in 2017. Government-to-government transactions significantly increased during the year with radars and electronics warfare systems representing the most significant military export. Israel’s defense industry sold the most to the Asia-Pacific region, 41% of all sales. SIBAT expects a further decrease in 2020 due to countries focusing on healthcare technology to combat COVID-19.

IAI will convert an additional three B767-300 aircraft from passenger to cargo configuration for DHL. The coronavirus pandemic is increasing demand for shipping and delivery and decreased demand for passenger aircraft. 

Elbit Systems UK completed a series of Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) trials using its Seagull Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV). The tests were carried out in collaboration with the UK Ministry of Defense in order to explore the possible use of USVs in the navy. The Seagull can be remotely controlled from port or from another vessel and can carry a variety of cutting edge technology including electro-optical/infrared (EOIR) and side-scan sonar.

Elbit Systems won a $38 million contract from the Israeli Ministry of Defense to provide technical and operational support for the Textron T-6 trainer aircraft fleet of the air force. The deal will be carried out over five years.

Regional Developments

AFRICOM released a statement saying the Russian fighter jets delivered to Libya in May are now piloted by private military contractors. The U.S. military voiced concern that “these Russian aircraft are being flown by inexperienced, non-state PMC mercenaries who will not adhere to international law.”

Syrian officials criticized the S-300 Russian air defense system for its repeated failure to protect Syrian facilities from Israeli fighter jets. According to the Breaking Defense, the Israeli Air Force hit more than 200 targets in 2019 with no effective response from Syria. The failure in Syria has Turkish leaders worried about the operational efficiency of the S-400, which they purchased from Russia for approximately $1 billion.

JPC intern Sacha Warnod compiled this report.