Posts Tagged Israel Aircraft Industries
Israeli companies have tried to sell drones to Colombia, but squabbling between them resulted in the Colombian government withdrawing the tender.
Amid price undercutting, and televised accusations that Elbit Systems bribed Colombian officials, the process seems to have fallen apart. That even after a General in the Israeli Defense Forces visited Colombia twice to try to patch things up. General Udi Shani even offered to make the deal a government to government deal, to ensure that problems would be sorted out.
Showing just how integrated Israeli arms companies are with the Israeli government, former Israeli Finance director general Amos Yaron was quoted in Good Morning Colombia as saying: “Our defense industries waste too much money competing against each other.” Yaron has previously forced Elbit and IAI to work together on a contract to supply UAVs to Turkey.
In July 2010 a Heron drone built by Israeli Aircraft Industries and operated by MacDonald Dettwiler, crashed near Suffield AB, after striking power lines.
This is just one of a number of crashes of drones worldwide that has made civilian populations uneasy about living under drones.
In 2009 a drone was involved in a ground incident with another object or vehicle.
While most crashes have been in remote areas, the plans to use drones for surveillance of civilian activities, makes their unreliability a concern.
MacDonald Dettwiler is seeking to develop a wide range of civilian uses for drones in Canada, presumably using Heron drones built in Israel by its partner Israeli Aircraft Industries.
Proposed uses would include pipeline monitoring, forest fire detection, agricultural and crop insurance monitoring.
Unstated is the potential for monitoring of all kinds, cheapening surveillance to the extent that a great deal surveillance of human activities happen.
Nor the boost for the Israeli arms industry that would result from civilian sales of more Heron drones. A matter of ploughshare sales boosting income for the sword manufacturers.
Israel has implemented a tempory freeze on sales of advanced weapons systems to Turkey, apparently as a result of scathing criticism of Israel by Turkey after the 2008-09 attack by Israel on Gaza. After the attack on Gaza the military cooperation agreement between the two nations was terminated. There has also been problems between Israel and Turkey resulting from the sale of Heron drones to Turkey, which has had many contractual problems.
Here is an excellent UPI article on recent Israel Turkey arms trading issues.
One of the problems outline for Israel is the effects that it has on Israeli air systems testing and training. Turkey had provided airspace for training, and now Israel must find other places, of which Roumania and Hungary have been tried, and India suggested. Turkey’s banning of Israeli training from Turkish air space probably hampered training for a possible air strike on Iran.
This issue provides a window on Israel’s attempts to bully trading partners to get what it wants. It also suggest’s Israel’s vulnerability, since it can obviously be influenced by the actions of its trading partners.
This is one of the few tangible negatives that Israel has sustained as a result of Operation Cast Lead, as Turkey has become more closely aligned with Israel’s most vocal enemies, Syria and Iran.
In terms of drones however Israel gets plenty of training and development opportunities by its drone rentals and sales to many countries in NATO. Israeli arms company personnel are often intimately involved in the deployment of these drones, and thus get valuable experience in operating them in a wide theatre of war.
Turkey has been a valuable ally for Israel, and could be a dangerous enemy. Not because it is likely that Turkey and Israel would ever be in armed conflict, but because Turkey is in NATO, and can veto Israel’s involvement in NATO. Israel values its ties with NATO, and uses its agreements with NATO to integrate its weapons systems with NATO. Without being able to integrate its weapons systems with those of NATO, Israel would be hampered in making weapons sales, especially with NATO countries.
Israel’s military intelligence chief Maj. General Amos Yadlin deflected focus on Israel’s attack on Gaza, and blamed the cooling of relations on Turkey’s drift away from secularism towards ‘radical Islam’.
Haaretz has recently reported that Israeli companies have sold Singapore missile defense shield technology, the ‘Iron Dome’. Haaretz reported that ‘Intelligence Online’ reported that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems had received financing for development of the Iron Dome technology in return for receiving several Iron Dome systems to deploy in Singapore. It reportedly cost $250 million to develop.
Israel and Singapore have long standing military links after Singapore asked Israel for help in developing its army after the IDF model, which was done, in the 1960’s.
As a result, Singapore has made many purchases of military equipment and technology from Israeli companies, including Hermes 450 drones from Elbit Systems, Barak surface to air missiles from IAI, naval drones from Rafael, fighter jet upgrading by an unnamed company.
Haaretz announced in January, 2010, that Iron Dome had been successfully tested and that one system was deployed. The article speculated about when additional systems would be purchased and estimated that 20 systems would required at a cost of $50 million each, or $1 billion.
There was speculation however that the Iron Dome project was developed entirely for Singapore, rather than as an offshoot of an Israeli defense project. Apparently much cheaper missile defense technology is available from an American company, the Vulcan Phalanx/Centurion cannon system supplied by Raytheon.
Was this is an issue because Israeli government financial resources were used in the development of the product, which was ultimately unneeded by the IDF? Only one system has been purchased, and there is no budget for buying more.
Or it may just be an illustration of how the IDF, government, and the Israeli arms companies work together, often in secrecy, to maximise Israeli arms sales.
Despite the burgeoning drones industry, especially in Israel, some observers have sounded a note of caution. ‘Samson Blinded’ pointed out that while drones are cheaper than piloted aircraft they are still expensive and are limited in many aspects. Furthermore the market for drones is somewhat limited and hampered by low production runs. Drones are in competition with increasingly sophisticated satelites for providing imagery.
Samson Blinded claims claims that the Israeli drones industry won’t prosper without the removal of American export restrictions. (Presumably these are restrictions imposed by the US on who Israel may sell drones to).
One of the reasons that drones have proliferated recently is because of rapid advances in many of the technologies needed to make drones work. But access to these technologies will soon be widely available, and it will be possible to buy many of the drone components almost off the shelf. Thus, Israel may lose its leading position.
Apparently, Israeli Air Industries, a major drone producer and developer of the Heron drone, has announced shifting of its production facilities to the US, to meet the needs of its US military customers. It also says that it will later shift all of its production to the US, except that needed to service the needs of the Israeli Military.
Another problem for the Israeli industry is that customers often prefer to have all or part of the drones they purchase made in their home country. The UK Watchkeeper programme is an example of this, where the UK has acquired the technology of the Hermes 450, but will build it in the UK. (It is not clear how much of the Watchkeeper is UK content, and how much is Israeli-or even sourced in other countries).
Recently IAI and Elbit Systems had a $185 milllion deal with Turkey to sell Heron drones to the Turkish military, under the condition that Turkish imaging equipment was fitted into the drones (actually the deal was to have 30% Turkish content in the drones). But the Turkish cameras were much smaller than the Israeli models, limiting the altitude that the drones could reach and the time they could stay in the air. This meant that the drones no long met Turkish specifications, putting the deal in jeopardy. (Of course there are other issues as well. Due to Israel’s contentious behaviour in Palestine, and a diplomatic incident, Turkish Israeli relations were strained. An extensive report and analysis of the deal can be found here).
In November 2009 UPI reported that Turkey had prevented Israel from participating in a NATO exercise that was later cancelled due to Israel’s exclusion. Demonstrating that the Israel’s drone industry is sometimes subject to hostile action resulting from the Israeli government’s behaviour. (By January, 2010, the deal was back on track again, as reported by Airforce Technology.Com).
Sometimes it works the opposite way. In 200X Israel had a very large arms deal with Georgia, which included supplying Georgia with drones. Georgia used these drones in its subsequent conflict with Russia. Later, impressed with the performance of the Israeli drones, Russia purchased $50 million worth of Israeli drones.
Russia is to buy another $100 million of Israeli drones from Israel Aerospace Industries. In the recent conflict with Georgia, Russia found out that its defences were severely hampered by its lack of drones. Georgian drones (ironically supplied by Israel) were able to operate on the frontier while Russians had to rely on expensive and cumbersome Tupolov bombers to gather intelligence.
At the time Russia was angered by Israeli arms sales to Georgia, and threatened to provide air defence for Iran (click ‘Georgia’ on the list to the left for more information) which would have help Iran protect its nuclear sites from Israeli or US attacks.
Is this sale an attempt by Israel to make up to Russia for arming a beligerant on Russia’s frontier, or simply a commercial transaction?
Project Noctua is the program by which the Canadian DND leases drones from contractors, specifically leasing Israel Aeronautic Industries Heron drones from IAI’s Canadian partner, MacDonald Dettwiler. REF
In 2008, Peter Mackay, Minister of National Defense, ‘quietly awarded’ the contract for drones for use in Afghanistan to the IAI Macdonald Dettwiler consortium, after the contractors for the US Predator drone bowed out of the bidding because the size of the contract wasn’t worth their trouble. REF
Recently Australia has received a Heron drone and training in operating Heron drones from Canada. This is a bit perplexing, since one wonders why Australia doesn’t get its drones straight from Israel.
The drones are presumably acquired through the partnership between Israel Aerospace Industries and MacDonald Dettwiler of Canada, which has an operation at Suffield Alberta, where it tests UAVs and trains operators for the drones that Canada has acquired from Israel.
Australia appears to have plans to acquire more drones, and the fact that they are already using a Heron drone suggests that future drones may also be acquired from Israel, providing support for the Israeli arms industry.
Australian drone operators are being absorbed into the Canadian Heron UAV detachment at Kandahar Afghanistan.
More information here.
Israel and Poland have a long standing arms trading association. Not only are there direct arms sales by Israel to Poland, but Israeli companies have invested in building arms manufacturing facilities in Poland.
Israeli arms manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has agreed to invest $423 million in Poland to build amaments in Poland, specifically the Spike anti tank missile. Poland would also like to purchase Israeli drone technology and have the drones built in Poland.
Aeronautics, a Yavnah based Israeli company, is supplying the Polish army with drones.
Poland is purchasing border security technology from companies including Israel’s Elbit Security systems, for 2.3 million Euros.
Haaretz reports that Poland’s GROM special operations forces cooperates with several Israeli secret police and anti terrorist units. Polish airmen might also train in Israel for flying older F-16 fighters purchased from the US. Regarding close security and military ties between Israel and Poland, former Polish ambassador to Israel is said to have stated: “We don’t talk in public about those things. We just do them.”