Security Digest Banner
topJanuary 2014 


usisraelU.S.-Israel Cooperation  


General Dynamics is renegotiating a 2011 contract with Israel that will likely include penalties due to Israel's latest five-year defense budget that cuts the number of heavy troop carrier kits Israel agreed to buy by 60%. Three years ago, General Dynamics had agreed to build chassis and main components for nearly 400 hundred Namers, a heavy troop carrier based on Israel's indigenous Merkava Mk4 main battle tank, through the end of the decade.


Back to top 

missileMissile Defense   


Israel is naming an Arrow missile defense facility after the late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the first time it has named a military facility after a non-Israeli. Inouye, who passed away in 2012, was a champion of the U.S.-Israel relationship and played an important role in U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation.


Earlier this month, the United States and Israel conducted a successful flight test of the jointly-owned Arrow 3 missile defense system at Palmachim air base. The ten-minute flight was the Arrow 3 interceptor's second flight test, whose radar tracked a virtual target and sent commands to the interceptor. 


Pending final approval from both governments, Rafael and Raytheon intend to sign a co-production agreement for the Tamir interceptors used in Iron Dome. Pursuant to $680 million Congress recently authorized for Iron Dome, the U.S. has mandated that Tamir-related components and subsystems be produced in the United States before being assembled and integrated in Israel. Initial funding to establish a U.S.-based production capacity was included in the 2014 defense authorization bill passed last month, along with $220 million for procurement. Israel is slated to receive $205 million (minus sequestration) in 2013 funds and another $255 million (minus sequestration) in 2015. Already partners on the Stunner interceptor for David's Sling, Raytheon would lead the U.S. production team and Rafael would assemble and integrate the parts in Israel.


The IDF has delayed the introduction of two new Iron Dome batteries due to the budget cuts affecting the manpower necessary to absorb and operate the systems. There are currently six Iron Dome batteries deployed.


Back to top 

levantLevant Watch


In the first such deadly incident in over three years, an Israeli soldier was shot and killed by a Lebanese soldier in a cross-border attack last month. Less than two weeks later, several katyusha rockets were fired into Israel, prompting retaliatory IDF fire. Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon denied reports that Hezbollah had acquired a dozen Russian Yakhont supersonic anti-ship missile systems from the Assad regime.


Meanwhile, a massive car bomb killed a prominent Sunni politician as well as seven others in central Beirut. Several days later, another car bomb exploded in a Hezbollah-dominated southern suburb of Beirut, killing four people. The escalation of large bombings and local clashes is the outgrowth of nearly three years of sectarian conflict in Syria.


The Syrian civil war is also beginning to directly involve the Lebanese state. Last month, Syrian rebel groups fired six rockets into northeast Lebanon, hitting a military barracks and wounding several soldiers. Two weeks later, the Lebanese Armed Forces, for the first time, fired on Syrian aircraft that had entered Lebanese airspace in retaliation for four missiles fired by Syrian helicopters near the border town of Arsal. The IDF has estimated that more than 300 Hezbollah members have died fighting on behalf of the Assad regime.


Even as the UN decided it could no longer verify any future casualty count, the death toll in Syria surpassed 130,000, according to another account. Major battles have also erupted between various rebel groups as they fight to consolidate control. In one incident, Turkish jets also fired
on Syrian rebel positions in response to mortar fire.


In another move that suggests its displeasure with American policy under the Obama Administration, Saudi Arabia has agreed to grant the Lebanese Armed Forces $3 billion-nearly double Lebanon's annual defense budget-to buy arms from France.


Back to top 

gulfGulf Watch    


In recent weeks, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Levant seized most of Ramadi and Fallujah, prompting the biggest crisis in Iraqi security since the U.S. withdrawal over two years ago. The Iraqi Army and Sunni tribes are colluding to roll back the jihadists, but the task may prove too difficult. Iraq has seen its worst violence in over five years as sectarian tensions, amplified by the Syrian civil war, have returned to the fore. While the Obama Administration has ruled out sending any troops to Iraq, it is rushing additional deliveries of Hellfire missiles and ScanEagle reconnaissance drones to Baghdad and is considering training Iraqi commandos in Jordan. However, Congress is holding up the potential sale of Apache helicopters over its concerns that the Maliki government will use them against his own political enemies and frustration that the Obama Administration attempted to wash it hands of Iraq too quickly.


In a potentially $2 billion deal, South Korea has agreed to sell Iraq 24 FA-50 light attack jets and train Iraqi pilots over the next two decades. The jets will be delivered by 2016 and mark the largest arms sale in South Korean history.


Iran announced it had inaugurated a new long-range radar system capable of detecting small UAVs. After conducting its own military exercises in the Gulf, Iran also declared that it would conduct joint coast guard drills with Qatar in the near future.


The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries advanced its efforts to form a cohesive military block. One week after President Obama asked Congress to facilitate arms sales to the GCC as an entity, Saudi Arabia announced that the GCC would have a 100,000-member force under a joint military command based in Riyadh. In conjunction, Oman has increased its defense spending by nearly twenty-five percent over the last four years. 


The U.S. Navy is implementing a $580 million expansion of its base in Bahrain, nearly doubling its size.  


In a $150 million deal, the U.S. Marine Corps agreed to train the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Presidential Guard for counterterrorism, counter-piracy, critical infrastructure protection, and national defense. Meanwhile, South Korea deployed a new rotation of 150 troops to the UAE as part of a military cooperation program dating back three years.


By July 2016, Kuwait will receive 14 four-pack Patriot missiles and seven launcher modifications kits in a nearly $265 million sale. The "hit-to-kill" PAC-3 missiles are designed to defeat tactical ballistic missile threats, cruise missiles threats, and aircraft.


The Charles de Gaulle, France's sole aircraft carrier, arrived in Abu Dhabi last week as part of a three-month mission to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean for joint military training. Over the course of the visit, the carrier and its associated strike group conducted exercises with the Saudi and Qatari navies, and is expected to carry out a joint exercise with the UAE Armed Forces at the end of the month. The Italian carrier Cavour also paid a visit to Dubai. 


Violent clashes, between the government and Sunni jihadists, the government and Shiite rebels, and Sunni jihadists and Shiite rebels in Yemen have surged in recent weeks, leading to the deaths of over 200 people.


In late December, Bahrain announced it had seized a large shipment of mines, explosives, and ammunition coming from Iraq in one of its greatest counterterrorism hauls ever.


A nearly $1 billion deal by the UAE to purchase two intelligence satellites from France is in jeopardy after the discovery that the two high-resolution Pleiades-type Falcon Eye military observation satellites contained two specific U.S.-supplied components that provide a back door to the highly secure data transmitted to the ground station.


Back to top  

turkeyTurkey Watch  


Following Turkey's surprise decision to select an anti-missile system from a Chinese firm under U.S. sanctions, Congress barred the use of U.S. funds to integrate the system into the NATO architecture. Meanwhile, 250 U.S. soldiers continued to be stationed in southern Turkey, manning two Patriot missile batteries.


The Turkish government has signed a contract for the production of two versions of the Hurkus, an indigenous trainer aircraft. The two-seat, turbo-prop, single 1,600 horsepower engine Hurkus will have a maximum lifespan of 35 years and maximum speeds of 574 kilometers per hour.


Back to top  

techTechnology Watch 


The Israeli Air Force is developing a health management system for UAVs, seeking to detect potential problems before they become critical in flight. As unmanned systems become a bigger part of Israel's aerial platforms, it is seeking to preserve their operational ability over the long-term.


Click to watch the AirMule. 

The AirMule, developed by the Israeli Company Urban Aeronautics, has successfully completed several fully automatic test flights. The vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned vehicle is able to operate in urban environments due to its use of two ducted fans instead of exposed rotors. 


The Israeli Ministry of Defense has signed a deal with Motorola to provide the IDF and the Ministry with its next generation smartphone. Military units will see the new smartphone in two years as it slowly replaces the current encrypted communications system, Mountain Rose. The new devices will allow soldiers to text, send digital media, and encrypted emails directly from the battlefield to the command and control centers.


Israel Military Industries (IMI) has announced the release of "Razor Core," a new 5.56mm cartridge designed to achieve higher accuracy and effective stopping power at extended range of up to 600 meters for the M-4 Carbine and the M-16 rifle. 


Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is developing the "Liraz," a new tactical radar outfitted to an ATV. The system is designed to detect ground fire and enable forces to neutralize the source of the fire immediately, and without the need of remote assistance.


The IDF is planning major C4I upgrades to augment networked combat capabilities and offset the impact of budget cuts. The plan, known as Te'uza, would focus on the tactical connectivity of maneuvering forces through the accelerated deployment of upgraded, long-distance wireless broadband and satellite on-the-move systems. By 2018, all active-duty and most reserve units to battalion level should be fully integrated into the digital network. The upgrade has thus far resulted in a five-fold increase in the IDF's targeting abilities.


Saab has selected the Elisra passive airborne warning system (PAWS-2), made by Elbit, for its Gripen fighter plane.


The IAF's Airborne Electronic Control Unit forms an integral part of military operations, disrupting enemy radar systems and maintaining air superiority. 


The Israel Air Force's Horizon Unit is developing "Waze" technology that will provide pilots with real-time information, allowing them to identify different types of enemy targets and make quick decisions while on the attack.


Back to top  

egyptEgypt Watch     


The Egyptian military regime continues its crackdown against Islamic militants, destroying smuggling tunnels in the Sinai even as it comes under attack. The Egyptian government also designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, dealing a further blow to the movement since the July coup.


Back to top  

oldandnewOld and New Allies 


In a deal held up since 2006, India finally agreed to the $143 million purchase of 262 Israeli-made Barak surface-to-air missiles. India also agreed to purchase 15 Heron surveillance drones, at a cost of $195 million, to better patrol its northern borders.


Australia awarded Elbit Systems a $229 million contract to supply battle management systems for the Australian Army as part of a relationship begun three years ago.


The South Korean Navy announced it would install Rafael's Spike NLOS missiles on its new Wildcat helicopters, the first time the Spike will be loaded onto a maritime platform. Already operational with the Korean Army, the systems will be operational in 2015.


Argentina is negotiating to buy 18 rebuilt and upgraded Israeli Kfir Block 60 fighters from IAI. The Kfir, first flown more than 40 years ago, is in active service in Colombia, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka.


Back to top  

oddsendsOdds and Ends   

  • Tunisia's army has shelled militant hideouts near the Algerian border as part of a campaign against hardline Islamists seeking to destabilize the country.
  • Eight years after suffering a debilitating stroke, former Israeli prime minister Major General (ret.) Ariel Sharon passed away earlier this month. Sharon, Israel's 8th defense minister, was best known for his daring military leadership from the 1948 War of Independence through the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Back to top 

Security Digest newsletter is a monthly bulletin covering U.S.-Israel security cooperation and much more. Distributed by e-mail, Security Digest is compiled by Gabriel Scheinmann. Look for Security Digest every month in your e-mail inbox. To give us feedback, simply reply to this email.
Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterVisit our blogView our videos on YouTube