Posts Tagged Rafael

Israeli government arms company scores big on eve of Canadian election

In the dying days of the Harper government, days before the election call, Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney announced a plan to give Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) a large contract with the Canadian Department of Defense. IAI (which is wholly owned by the Israeli government) co-produces the Iron Dome missile defence system, along with Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, also an Israeli government corporation. Iron Dome is a radar system that allows Israeli military forces to detect and shoot down the primitive rockets fired at Israel by militants in occupied Gaza. It has been criticised as having limited coverage, and being very expensive. Its development was largely financed by US subsidies, which were always controversial because of the cost.

The $250,000,000 plan would buy technology from the  Israeli arms company for Iron Dome-based radar technology related to ‘incoming threats to Canadian forces’. The exact nature of the technology is ambiguous, and there was little to indicate that the Canadian government was in the market for the technology prior to the plan being announced. It is uncertain what incoming threats that Canadian forces would face in the realistic scenarios they might be faced with. While Iron Dome is effective at downing relatively slow rockets fired at a distance, it hasn’t in the past worked for rockets fired at close range and might not work for faster missiles. In its recent deployment in Afghanistan most ‘incoming’ threats were rifle fire and mortar rounds, not rockets.

There appears to have been no call for proposals, and no plan for competitive bidding. The actual contract would be carried out largely by Rheinmetail Canada, a German company without much record of activity in Canada.

Developers of Iron Dome have been searching for money to develop further the technology underlying Iron Dome for a variety of purposes. A US Senate report has called for more technology transfer to the US, if it is to continue to fund the project.  It is hard to avoid the implication that Canadian government money will be used to further develop Israeli proprietary technology, without Canadian equity participation, and without safeguards to prevent the technology being used in the continuing illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. Was it part of a backroom deal to subsidise Israel’s arms trade, as US funding becomes less reliable?

While the deal was covered in a variety of Israeli mainstream news sources, and Canadian Jewish media, it was not covered by Canadian media, despite the controversial timing of the deal and the size of the contract.

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Israeli arms exports pressured by peace and economic uncertainty

Israel has had a burgeoning arms industry. The three biggest Israeli arms companies IAI, Elbit Systems, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, had orders backlogs in 2010 of $16 billion. 100,000 Israelis work in an industry that sold $7.2 billion in arms in 2010.

The World Tribune online, reports that Midroog, the Israeli credit rating industry says that international trends present challenges for the Israeli arms industry. 70% of Israelis arm production is exported.

Moog worries that with the end of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that orders for Israeli arms will be dropped. And that the US is encouraging US arms companies to develop new markets, in competition with Israeli companies.

(This blog post will be expanded……)

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Iron Dome Shoots Down Some Rockets, But At What Cost?

Ha’aretz reports that Iron Dome missiles have shot down eight rockets fired from Gaza, the most recent on Saturday, 9 April, 2011. Israeli forces claimed that 38 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Saturday. Apparently 70 were fired in the whole exhange.

It would appear that the rockets targeted are ‘Grad’ rockets fired at the town of Ashkelon since Iron Dome only works if it has a long lead time.

Iron Dome has been criticised for not being capable of responding to the threat of rockets because it isn’t quick enough to intercept rockets fired from nearby. Also, each Iron Dome missile costs many times the price of a rocket, so the cost of Iron Dome is very high. (BBC reports that each Iron Dome missile costs $70,000. Ynet reports that two missiles were fired to make the successful interception). In the recent exchange the cost could have been been about $1,120,000 and the rate of interception about 10%. That’s if eight rockets were intercepted as per the Ha’aretz article. Other sources only mention one rocket intercepted, which is a success rate of less than 2%.

In this light, it is possible to suggest that Iron Dome has been deployed primarily as a public relations gesture to Israeli residents, because it unrealistic to believe that the Israeli military would or could shoot down more than a small percentage of rockets. This was apparent from early in the project, yet the Israeli government continued to say that it could protect the residents of Sderot with this programme. In reality they are only able to protect further away communities like Ashkelon.

Clearly the cost of the programme is so high and the capability so limited that Israeli military cannot realistically protect the residents of Southern Israel from rocket attacks. Israelis have been sold a bill of goods and led to believe that there could be such a thing as an ‘Iron Dome’ over them.

Meanwhile an arms company has benefited from a very large contract, and the government has minimised pressure from residents.

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Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ Technology Sold to Singapore

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.

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