Posts Tagged Israeli arms company

Did they test Watchkeeper over Galilee or over the Occupied Golan Heights?

The Jewish Chronicle reported in 2008 that Britain caused a furore when it demanded that the Watchkeeper be tested  over Galilee, from the Rosh Pina airfield, rather than over occupied territory, citing the inappropriateness of testing the drone over occupied territory. Initial testing had *already* occured at Pik Airfield in the Golan Heights. Local people in the Galilee area complained over the possibility of  noise and safety concerns.

But where did the later tests actually take place?

The Jewish Chronicle also quoted BaronessNeville-Jones, Conservative shadow defence minister, who was visiting the Golan Heights:

“We were very impressed by what seemed to us an excellent example of co-operation between the Israeli defence establishment and Her Majesty’s armed forces. Everything seemed to be working well and there was no indication that anyone was planning a change of venue.”

JC noted that the Israeli foreign ministry declined to comment.

So did the test actually not take place over Galilee?  The JC article seems to  leave that possibility open.

Subsequent articles in other publications state that the test flights took place at Megiddo airport.

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Gates Calls for Expansion of US Drone Sales

Robert Gates, US Secretary of Defense has recently expressed his interest in exporting US offensive drones across the world.

But only to friendly countries, of course.

On March 25, 2010, Reuters reported that the US aerospace industry believed that US demand for drones would double in the next five years, after rising 600%  since 2004. They also hoped for international demand.

Gates was speaking at a US Senate hearing. It wasn’t clear what countries he was thinking of, but the US appears to be losing the drones market to aggressive Israeli arms sellers who’ve sold or leased drones to dozens of countries, including many in NATO.

The US has only sold drones to two countries, Italy and Britain, and is limited by the terms of the Missile Technology Control Regime, which has 34 signatories, including many of the NATO countries. The 34 member list, has many countries which have purchased or leased drones from Israel, which is not on the list.

Among the countries receiving drones however will be Pakistan, which will receive 12 RQ-7 Shadow surveillance UAVs  as part of a billion dollar to Pakistan from the Coalition Support fund.

In January, President Asif Ali Zardari spoke to Gates about the issue of giving control of the drones to Pakistani forces.  Zardari told Gates that the use of armed drones to in the frontier territories had led to anti-American anger. He stated “that people would be less critical if the drones were used by Pakistani troops.”

This appears to be a Pakistani request for the US to supply them with armed drones and the capacity to carry out assassination programmes on their own territory.

While Zardari made the request specifically with respect to fighting extremists, a Pakistan armed with missile carrying drones poses an obvious threat to India, which expressed its alarm.

India wants assurances that the drones aren’t ‘targeted’ at India.

Robert Gates has been one of the strongest advocates for the US drone assassination programme in northern Pakistan.

Gates has frequently expressed concern that drone technology would fall into the hands of enemies, without specifying who he might mean (Russia?, Iran?), but noting that:

“My worry would be capabilities like this getting into the hands of non-state actors who could use them for terrorist purposes.”

Gates seems oddly concerned that he might violate the terms of the Missile Technology Control Regime. Most of the members of the regime have been acquiring drones with happy abandon, either by building them for themselves, or buying them elsewhere, principally from America’s chief ally, Israel. According to many the Israeli technology is leading edge. And Israeli companies have provided drones to many regimes with questionable intentions, most notable Georgia.

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Elbit remotely controlled gun turrets used from Gaza to Brazil.

Elbit has also won a contract to provide the Brazilian military with ‘unmanned turrets’ for military vehicles, designed to by used in ‘asymetric warfare’. In other words terrorism, guerrilla warfare, or civil disobedience. Given that warfare isn’t a high risk in Brazil, the turrets would likely be used to quell civil disobedience or riots. In the Brazilian situation, I believe that ‘asymetric warfare’ is a code word for ‘riots’.

Elbit already supplies the turret to the Belgians, in a $58 million contract, involving General Dynamics.  In 2007 they announced sales of the turrets to Slovenia and Romania. In 2006  they sold them to Portugal.

These unmanned turrets appear to be remotely controlled turrets capable of firing cannons, machine guns, grenade launchers (presumably smoke or tear gas), and with sophisticated electronics for seeing and following targets.

Elbit claims to supply these turrets to all IDF battle tanks, including the Merkava. (Though in the IDF version they also fire missiles.) It claims that a version of the turret was used during the Israeli ‘disengagement’ from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Presumably these turrets are available on a wide range of armoured vehicles that have been, or may be used, in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

Presumably they could be operated as ‘remote sentinels’, similar to the device made by Samsung (described elsewhere here), which can guard and area and spray it with automatic weapons fire if desired. It isn’t clear if Elbit markets the turret for this purpose.

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Elbit Systems Sells Military Communications Technology to Australia

On 15/2/10 it was announce that Elbit Systems has won a contract to provide a $USD300 million ‘command and control’ communications systems to the Australian DOD. Described as a contract for: “the supply, integration, installation and support of a Battle Group and Below Command, Control and Communications (BGC3) system for the Australian Army’s Land 75/125 program” . More info here.

This is a key product for Elbit which will try to sell more of its technology to other countries.

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Russia Buys more 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?

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Updating Canada’s JUSTAS program to acquire UAVs

Although Canada’s JUSTAS program to acquire new drones for the military seems to be continuing behind the scenes, there hasn’t been much public information lately. Apparently no reporters are doing any digging. Here’s a recent update.

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General Dynamics and the Israeli drones

General Dynamics and Elbit Systems of America Conduct First U.S. Demonstration of Unmanned Aerial System for U.S. Armed Forces, April, 2008

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Canada Purchases Israeli Drones

In September, 2008 the Canadian government, to the surprise of parliament, decided to buy two types of drones from Israel Aircraft Industries. They will buy the Heron 2 and the Heron TP drones for delivery and deployment in Afghanistan in February, 2008. (Nissan Ratzlav-Katz, Canada to Upgrade to Israeli Drone Planes, Arutz Sheva, 10 November, 2008)  It appears they would be leased from a British Columbia firm, MacDonald Dettwiler, of Vancouver. Source

The Canadian DND has announced it will lease several Herons at a cost of $95 million, to be delivered in February, 2009, and in the interim will lease several small Scan Eagle drones, at a cost of $14 million. David Krayden, The Heron to Provide Unique Intelligence to Commanders, The Maple Leaf, 10 September, 2008

This was a change from the previous French drones that Canada used. It was also a rejection of the earlier proposal to purchase Predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles from the US.

“We generally insist on a degree of oversight, legitimacy, adherence to the laws of war that require a man in the loop pretty definitively. So it would be a bit of a stretch for us.” Lt. General Angus Watt, as quoted in: Canada in Market for Unmanned Drone Aircraft,, 6/10/2007 

 Watt was discussing the uncomfortableness that the Canadian military would have operating an attack drone armed with Hellfire missiles from a remote setting in Nevada or elsewhere. See also

One blogger claimed a rumour, without any substantiation, that a Canadian cabinet minister with a habit of boosting Israeli interests, had managed to nix the Predator purchase, and get the Herons substituted. The Torch, 26 May, 2008

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