Elbit Systems Sales to European Countries

I did a little research this week on Elbit Systems

Elbit Systems and the European Community, Part 1 (research)

Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest private arms company, with revenues of $2.83 billion in 2009. Most of Elbit’s exports are for military hardware and technology. Elbit sells its products worldwide through a variety of subsidiaries and partners. Europe is an important market for Elbit products, and a portal into further sales into the broader coalition of NATO countries.

Elbit’s economic integration with Europe has many aspects:

Part 1

  1. Direct sales
  2. Purchases from suppliers
  3. Joint ventures
  4. Turn key factories
  5. European subsidiaries

Part 2

  1. Participation in research and technological transfer programmes
  2. Trade Agreements
  3. Interlocking directorships, etc

Direct Sales

In 1998 Elisra (now a subsidiary of Elbit Systems) sold ‘defensive electronics’ to the German military, for its helicopters.

In 2006 it was announced that Poland would work with local companies Bumar and the RADWAR Scientific-Industrial Centre of Professional Electronics to produce a range of drones based on Elbit models, the Skylark, Skylark II, and Hermes 450. This programme does not appear to have proceeded.

In 2007 Elbit, along with Alcatel Lucent, was awarded a 2.3 million euro contract to provide an Observation Watchtower System along Poland’s eastern border, using advance surveillance technology.

In December, 2010, Elbit announced that it would be supplying Poland with a ‘testing set’ of mobile multi sensor monitoring and surveillance system for Poland’s armoured personnel carriers, at a cost of $16 million. Likely included would be Israeli Skylark drones. The project would be in conjunction with local companies.

Elbit has sold unmanned gun turrets for armoured personnel carriers to Belgium and Slovenia. (The contract with Slovenia appears to have been cancelled by Slovenia due to non performance in some aspects).

It has also sold them to Romania. (Where the work will be performed by Elbit Systems’ Romanian subsidiary Elmet International, with the collaboration of the Romanian company Pro-Optica S.A)

Other Romanian subsidiaries include Elbit Systeme S.A., and A.E. Electronics, S.A. In 2011, Elbit was awarded an $18 million contract to upgrade Romania’s fleet of C-130 aircraft, which will be carried out primarily by the local three subsidiaries and three or more local partners. Local partners include Aerostar, Avioane Craiova, and IAR Brasov. Flight Global claims that Elbit has 400 employees in Romania. Earlier in the decade Elbit had been in a coventure to supply training aircraft to the Romanian air force.

In 2005, Elbit was awarded a contract to upgrade helicopters in the Macedonian fleet.

In 2007 Elbit won a $10 million contract to provide communication and surveillance for Lithuania’s coastal defense system.

22 June, 2011 Elbit announced that it had sold directed infrared countermeasures systems to the Italian Air Force at a value of $15 million.

24 May, 2011 Elbit announced that it been awarded an $18.6 million contract to upgrade Romanian military planes. Elbit has been operating in Romania for 15 years and has many partners there.

Elbit supplies the Joint Helmut Cueing System (an electronic system in a pilots helmet) to Belgium, Denmark, and Greece.

Working with General Dynamics, in 2007 Elbit won a 44.8 million euro contract to supply Remote Controlled Weapons Stations to Belgium.

In June 2011 Elisra announced that it had been awarded a contract to supply personal locator beacons to the French Ministry of Defense

Drone sales

Elbit has sold Skylark II drones to the Czech Republic in November 2009, for CZK50m (about $3m), according to the website timawa.net. There are also references to Skylark I drones being used by the Czechs.

Elbit has sold Skylark I drones to France for use by French special forces, in 2008.

Slovakia purchased Skylark drones in 2009.

Skylark drones have been sold to France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Macedonia, and the Netherlands according to Wikipedia.

Drone leases

The UK has paid £44.5 million to lease Hermes 450 drones for use in Afghanistan, from U-TacS, a joint Elbit and Thales company based in the UK. (check)

Wikipedia reports that Croatia operating Hermes 450 drones, as well as Skylarks. It is uncertain whether these were purchased or are leased.

Lorros security cameras from El-Op

Lorros (Long Range Reconnaisance and Observation Systems) cameras are used used on Israel’s ‘security wall’. (Presumably they are also used in a variety of other Elbit applications, in drones, in unmanned turrets, etc. No European sales have been identified.

Joint Ventures

Thales. Elbit has an ongoing relationship with Thales, the French arms company. Perhaps the chief joint venture with Thales is U-TacS, the company building the Watchkeeper drone for the UK. Elbit Systems owns 51% of U-Tac S, the prime contractor on the Watchkeeper drone programme.

Watchkeeper is based on Elbit’s Hermes 450, and uses several components of Elbit origin, including the rotary engine supplied by Elbit-owned UAV Engines of Lichfield, UK.

A list of subcontractors on the Watchkeeper project can be found HERE and HERE.

Also, in October, 2011 Elbit, along with Thales owner of U-TacS was awarded a $70 million contract to provide ISTAR on an urgent basis for the UK Armed Forces.

Ferranti. Recently Elbit subsidiary Elisra coventured with Ferranti of Italy to create Advanced EW Systems, based in Oldham, UK. ‘EW’ stands for ‘electronic warfare’ systems. This new venture planned to seek business with the UK MODs helicopter fleet. (However this coventure appears to have been dissolved).

Embraer. Elbit Systems subsidiary AEL Systemas is working with Embraer of France to upgrade the Brazilian Air Force F-5 jet.

Sagem. In 2010, Elbit Systems announced it was forming a joint venture with French company Sagem, to develop drones. The new venture, so far unnamed, was to be operational in 2011 and based in the French communities Eragny and Montluçon. The new venture would produce drones using the technologies of each company. The intention of the partners would be to produce drones to sell to the French military as well as countries who might not wish to purchase drones directly from Israel. Opex360.com claims that this coventure would concentrate on developing and selling all models of each of the participating companies, including the Sperwar, Skylark and Hermes drones, but would exclude the Hermes 450 model, presumably to avoid competing with the British Watchkeeper, also produced by an Elbit coventure.

In 1997 Tadiran, (now an Elbit subsidiary), along with a Spanish partner) supplied a communications system to the Spanish air force, in a $35 million contract.

Elbit has recently sold Remote Controlled Weapons Stations (RCWS) to Austria, Belgium and Romania. In some cases these were manufactured by other companies using Elbit technology.

In 1999 Elbit annnounced it had a contract to upgrade Croatia’s MIG jets. Apparently however this was subsequently cancelled. More recently Elbit competed for a contract to upgrade Croatia’s armoured vehicles. In 2011 Elbit visited an arms fair in Split, Croatia exhibiting the Sperwar drone, the Hermes 90 drone, and thermal imaging equipment.

Purchases from European suppliers

A high tech company like Elbit Systems, with billions in sales, will necessarily have countless suppliers, from around the world. Most of these are unannounced and will never be discovered. However some of the larger ones are occasionally announced in the press.

Finnmechanica, an Italian company, through its subsidiary Selex Galileo, is selling Gabbiano radar systems for use in Hermes 450 drones, and Hermes 900 drones.

UAV Engines, of Lichfield, UK, is selling rotary engines for use in a variety of Elbit drones. UAV Engines is owned by Elbit Systems. Elbit in the past has denied that the British made engine was used in attacks on Gaza and in the West Bank, but openly state that the British engine is used in a variety of Hermes configurations. It seems probable that it has been used in attacks on the Occupied Palestinian Territories.


As noted earlier, Elbit owns UAV Engines, of Lichfield UK.

In 2009 Elbit acquired ownership several Mikal companies, which gave it ownership of the technologies of several smaller Israeli arms and technology companies, Soltam Systems, Saymar, and ITL Optronics. (It is uncertain whether any of these have ongoing contracts or other relationships with European companies or state organisations, but all would inevitably seek business there).

Likewise Elbit subsidiaries Elisra, Tadiran Spectralink, and Tadiran Electronic Systems would also seek European business. Elisra provides a wide range of electronic and communications products to the military aviation industries. It was co-owned with Israel Aircraft Industries (30%), but in 2011 Elbit acquired the remaining shares and now owns all of Elisra.

Elbit subsidiary Elop of Israel will supply CoMPASS ‘Advanced Obervation System’ to the UK’ Watchkeeper drone programme. CoMPASS is also used as a camera/optical system for other Hermes 450 configurations. See a photograph of it here.

In 2008 Elbit acquired the electro-optics company Electro Optic Research and Development (EORD) from Technion Research and Development Foundation and Bynet Electronics. Technion was is (connected to) Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, which lists among its benefactors Rupert Murdoch.

Elmet International, and A.E. Electronics, S.A, are Romanian subsidiaries of Elbit Systems.

Cyclone Aviation Projects Ltd is an Elbit subsidiary that has upgraded UN helicopters in Cyprus. Cyclone produces assemblies for civil and military aircraft such as the F-15, F-16 and F-18 fighter aircraft, Boeing 737 to 787 aircraft and the Airbus 340.

Part 2 (under construction)

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