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topIn This Issue  - April 2012 


 Missile Defense     U.S.-Israel Cooperation     Turkey Watch


Iran Watch     Egypt Watch     Levant Watch


Old and New Allies     Technology     Odds & Ends     

missiledefenseMissile Defense  


Shapiro at Iron Dome
United States Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro visits an Iron Dome battery. Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Tel-Aviv

During the March escalation of rocket fire from Gaza, Iron Dome successfully intercepted 80% of the rockets it targeted-an increase on the 2011 success rate. As a consequence of the flare-up, Congress, supported by the Pentagon, introduced a bill that would massively expand U.S. aid to Israeli missile defense programs. Reports suggest that Israel is seeking up to $1bil in additional funding for several missile defense systems. 


The United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain) have reached an agreement in principle to build a regional ballistic missile defense system. The Bahraini foreign minister cited Iran as the motivating threat. Several GCC countries, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE, have already purchased various U.S. anti-missile systems.


During a visit to Iran, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan assured Tehran that the U.S. radar deployed in Turkey as part of the U.S. missile defense system was not directed at Iran. He also reiterated that Turkey would not share data from the radar with Israel and that it could dismantle the radar within six months if its conditions were not being met.


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usisraelcoopU.S.-Israel Cooperation


U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey hosted his counterpart, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, in Washington in March. It was the third meeting in six months between the top military leaders of both countries. 


The joint U.S.-Israel missile defense drill, Austere Challenge 12, will be held in October, following its postponement a few months ago. The exercise will involve the establishment of U.S. command posts in Israel and Israeli command posts in Germany (EUCOM headquarters). The U.S. is expected to bring its THAAD and Aegis ballistic missile defense systems to simulate, in conjunction with the Israeli Arrow and Iron Dome systems, missile attacks on Israel.


In a visit to the Israeli port of Ashdod, National Nuclear Security Administration Principal Deputy Administrator Nelle Miller highlighted Israel's cooperation with the U.S. Second Line of Defense (SLD) Megaports Initiative. Under the SLD Program, Israel, since 2009, has installed a radar detection system in the Ashdod port to scan cargo containers for nuclear or other radioactive materials.  


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iranIran Watch


The mine countermeasures ship Scout, seen detonating a simulated mine in an exercise.

The U.S. has increased it military presence in the Persian Gulf in response to escalating Iranian threats. The U.S. Navy was doubling its minesweeper ships and helicopters to the Gulf in order to ensure the unfettered access to the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Washington has also deployed a second aircraft carrier. 


Iran announced several military developments. The Iranian Defense Ministry has supplied new ballistic missiles to the IRGC and that it would begin mass producing the Qiyam 1 missiles. Iran also introduced a new, domestically built UAV, the Shaparak and unveiled a new radar system, the Samen, which will be added to its anti-aircraft defense system.


A major Egyptian paper reported that Cairo had foiled an Iranian attack on Israeli naval ships in the Suez Canal. Iran also appears to have massively increased its support of the Yemenite rebels, a further example of its regional ambitions. The Iranian regime provides military aid for Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.


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egyptEgypt Watch


As a sign of the increasing lawlessness in the Sinai, Bedouin gunmen laid siege to the Multinational Force & Observers, the international monitoring force observing compliance with the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. The siege, lasting 8 days, ended without any MFO casualties following an understanding with Egyptian authorities that Bedouin demands would be heard. Soon afterwards, Egypt announced that, in cooperation with Israel, it was starting to deploy additional troops to strategic points in the Sinai in an attempt to clamp down on the spiraling security threat in the vast area. To underscore the need, a rocket launched from the Sinai landed in Israel. 


The Obama administration restored U.S. military aid to Egypt, which had been withheld by Congress since October. Secretary Clinton, however, did not certify that the Egyptian military regime had made progress on issues of human rights and democratic transition, itself a rebuke to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Similarly, the State Department announced it would resume aid to the Palestinian Authority, despite a Congressional hold on the funds. 


Two Israeli naval vessels transited the Suez Canal in mid-March, passing from the Mediterranean to Eilat.


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levantLevant Watch

Russian GunsAs the Syrian government crackdown on its citizens continues, Russia remains the regime's largest supplier of arms. Russian ships recently docked at the Syrian port of Tartus, delivering anti-ship cruise missiles to the Assad regime. 


Syria has been training Hezbollah fighters to use advanced anti-aircraft weapons, a worrying development for Israel. Jerusalem has also become increasingly concerned that Syria has quickened the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, possibly including heavy rockets that could be fitted with chemical warheads. 


The Israeli Navy is considering deploying missile interceptors on gas rigs in the eastern Mediterranean over the coming years. Israel is concerned that Hezbollah or Syria may try to target Israel's exploitation of its recently discovered gas fields.


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oldandnewOld and New Allies 


Israel officially signed a contract with Germany to purchase its sixth Dolphin-class submarine. Berlin is subsidizing one-third of the cost.


The United States, Israel, and Greece conducted a 10-day naval exercise in the Mediterranean to simulate defending offshore gas drilling infrastructure. Operation Noble Dina marks the second consecutive year Israel and Greece have conducted joint naval drills, reflecting the fast-growing partnership.


Israel's military partnership with India continues to grow.  Israel will offer to sell India up to six naval reconnaissance aircraft, worth several hundred million dollars, and will provide India's Arjun main battle tanks with its LAHAT missiles, laser-guided missiles launched from a tank's cannon that can hit moving targets from greater distances. Indian and Israeli defense companies are increasingly partnering to jointly develop and manufacture products. 


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The IDF has recently implemented two new systems to provide tanks with better protection from anti-tank missiles. Developed by Elbit, one system detects laser-guided weapons, allowing a tank to direct its fire at the launcher before the missiles can be launched, and the other system redirects the course of the attacking missile once in flight.


IDF soldiers breach
IDF soldiers breaching a room during training.

New IDF radars on the Gaza border, dubbed Baron and Baroness, have helped reduced the infiltration rate by 70-80% by eliminating the blind spots of previous radars.  The IDF Combat Engineering Corps has also revealed a series of heretofore secret technologies


Israel bought its third C-130J-30, known as the "Super" Hercules transport aircraft, from Lockheed Martin. Israel is eventually expected to purchase nine with the first scheduled for delivery next year.


Israel Aerospace Industries has managed to double the endurance of small UAVs by replacing their electric batteries with hydrogen fuel cells. The Israeli Navy wants to equip its patrol boats with small vertical take-off and landing UAVs. 


The IDF is standing up an artillery battalion that will be capable of launching guided rockets into populated areas, a task previously performed solely by the IAF. When implemented, the IDF will be able to strike targets without the need for aerial bombardment, a development that the Israeli defense industry believes will only accelerate. The IAF is currently looking to purchase precision guided rockets for its Apache and Cobra attack helicopters that would improve its level of accuracy in strikes on urban centers. 


This year, the IDF will receive two new types of grenades, one that can prevent accidental detonation when hit by bullets and the other that will allow infantry to launch smoke grenades by cannons and not by hand, increasing their range.  IDF Ground Forces are also developing a miniature, lightweight radar surveillance and reconnaissance system which would allow brigades to directly detect enemy forces without the need of UAVs.


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Security Digest newsletter is a monthly bulletin covering U.S.-Israel security cooperation. Distributed by e-mail, Security Digest is edited by JINSA Visiting Fellow Gabriel Scheinmann. Each issue features news articles covering all aspects of U.S.-Israel cooperation with a focus on the military as well as an analytical article by Mr. Scheinmann. Look for Security Digest every month in your e-mail inbox. To give us feedback, simply reply to this email.
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