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[*] posted on 16-3-2020 at 09:13 PM

Israel’s president gives Benny Gantz first chance at forming a government

Ruth Eglash 15 mins ago

FILE PHOTO: Leader of Blue and White party, Benny Gantz looks on after voting at a polling station in Israel's national election in Rosh Ha'ayin, Israel March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo

President Reuven Rivlin said Sunday he will give former military chief of staff Benny Gantz the first chance at forming the next Israeli government after he was recommended for the task by a majority of lawmakers. The step comes two weeks after a third general election in less than a year produced no clear winner, continuing the country's political paralysis.

But Gantz, who was unable to form a government after the previous vote in September, still has a mammoth task ahead of him in securing support from unlikely and ideologically opposing parties who might or might not agree to serve in a coalition. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been similarly unable to form a government.

Israeli’s political stalemate has been exacerbated in recent weeks by the novel coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, Israel increased nationwide emergency measures it hoped would slow the spread of the virus, including closing schools, universities and all places of entertainment. The number of confirmed cases of covid-19 in Israel stands at 213, with no fatalities.

Immediately following the March 2 vote, it appeared that Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party had gained the edge over Gantz’s Blue and White alliance, securing 36 seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, the Knesset, to become the largest faction. Four smaller, right-wing, religious parties immediately threw their support behind Netanyahu, giving him a secure bloc of 58 seats.

But Gantz, whose party won 33 seats, appeared to have forged alliances in recent days with two unlikely partners: The Joint List of Arab-majority parties, which gained 15 seats, and the right-wing nationalistic secular party headed by Avigdor Liberman, which won seven. The factions have wildly incompatible ideologies, but they share the goal of ousting Netanyahu and ushering in new leadership in Israel.

Both parties recommended to the president on Sunday that Gantz become the next prime minister. With the support of six members of the left-wing Labor-Meretz faction (one member decided to abstain), he had 61 votes, a narrow majority that left Rivlin with no choice but to hand him the mandate to form a government.

But it was far from certain that Gantz would succeed this time either. Although Gantz needs only a simple majority, no Arab-majority party since Israel’s creation in 1948 has been invited or willing to join a government.

For many in Israel’s Jewish majority, the idea of Arab lawmakers in such a high level of governance triggers deep concerns, ideological and psychological, over the fate of Israel as a Jewish state. There are lawmakers in Gantz’s own Blue and White party who have said they would not support such an arrangement.

For Israeli Arabs, remaining outside the government is part of an ideological protest over Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinians and its treatment of Arab citizens. It’s also unlikely the Joint List would support a government that included Liberman, a hawkish former defense minister who has made clear his disdain for the country’s 1.8 million Arab minority.

In an unusual move Sunday, Rivlin invited Gantz and Netanyahu to his residence for a joint meeting. Analysts speculated the president would put pressure on the two leaders to find a way to join forces, especially as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

“Dealing with emergencies has never been at the expense of Israeli democracy, but has rather strengthened it and made our country more resilient,” the president said before the meeting.

“We are committed, more than ever, in light of the urgent need for a government, to hold essential democratic processes, even in a time of crisis.”

Netanyahu asked Gantz last week to join him in an emergency national unity government to confront the pandemic. The two leaders spoke Thursday night.

But over the weekend, Gantz appeared to question Netanyahu’s motives, suggesting he was not serious about sharing power.

Blue and White’s election campaign was focused on not joining a coalition with Netanyahu, who in November became the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted in three criminal probes.

After Saturday’s announcement of new measures to fight the coronavirus, Justice Minister Amir Ohana, a close ally of the prime minister, froze the court system, effectively postponing Netanyahu’s trial, which had been set to start Tuesday.

“Netanyahu, let's not manipulate the public,” Gantz tweeted Sunday. “If you're interested in unity, why postpone your trial and send the proposal for an “emergency government” to the press, rather than via your negotiating team? Opposed to you, I will continue to support every appropriate governmental measure, putting aside political considerations. When you get serious, we can talk.”

In a response, the Likud party said “While Prime Minister Netanyahu is managing an unprecedented global and national crisis, Gantz has galloped toward a minority government that depends on supporters of terror instead of joining a national emergency government that would save lives.”

Later, after meeting with Rivlin, Gantz and Netanyahu issued a rare joint statement thanking the president and saying their negotiating teams would meet in the coming days. It was not whether they had made any progress in bridging the gaps between them.
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[*] posted on 24-4-2020 at 05:57 PM

Israeli Seeks Early Release Of US Defense Funding


on April 23, 2020 at 4:18 PM

TEL AVIV: Israel’s Ministry of Defense and high command have hammered out an emergency plan for an appeal to Washington to make changes in the Foreign Military Funds (FMF) agreement between the U.S and Israel.

The situation created by the pandemic is having a huge effect on the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) new multi-year plan to spend between four and 10 billion shekels in additional funds each year to make the army, air force and navy more capable. That effect comes on top of the political chaos that left Israel with no acting government for more than a year, almost freezing implementation of the new plan. Big parts of the plan’s acquisition programs will have to be delayed, if not cancelled.

Sources here say the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing Israel to ask Washington to change major changes to the agreement, including a request to receive the annual allocation $3.8 billion earlier than planned.

“The declining portion of U.S money that can be converted into Israeli Shekels was bad news for the Israeli defense industry when the agreement was signed in 2018. Now, it looks like a disaster,” a senior source said.

On the other hand, “If the Americans will agree to give us, for example, the $3.8 planned for 2024 in this year or next year, this will allow Israel to perform some urgently needed procurement programs, and that will help the U.S industry to keep production lines open in this problematic times that are affecting also the U.S.,” a Ministry of Defense source told BD. The source added that if Washington agrees to such an unprecedented request, Israel will be able to make faster decisions on urgently needed procurement plans involving American weapons.

“In an election year in the U.S more contracts to the American industry is good for the White House” the source said, especially as the US economy faces recovery from the pandemic. While the source was reluctant to identify the programs, there are three main programs requiring immediate decisions.

After a long internal debate, Israeli Defense Forces general staff decided Feb. 18 to purchase another Lockheed Martin F-35 squadron and another Boeing F-15 squadron, in a deal estimated at $4 billion. The other programs involved are replacements for CH-53’s and 707 aerial refueling aircraft.

“The idea of asking for earlier annual allocations that are part of the FMF structure , is a wild one but makes sense in the special conditions created by the pandemic,” Joseph Weiss, former president of Israel Aerospace Industries, told me.

Over the last decade, FMF aid to Israel totaled $31 billion. Israel was allowed to exchange 26.3 percent to local Israeli currency, allowing the Defense Ministry to buy defense systems from the Israeli companies.

The total value of the new MOU, which covers fiscal 2019- 2028, is $38 billion ($3.8 billion per year). It includes $33 billion in FMF funds and an unprecedented $5 billion for missile defense assistance.

American aid has been an important element in Israel’s military power over the last 45 years (primarily since the Yom Kippur War). It funds some of Israel’s most advanced weapons and currently constitutes almost one fifth of Israel’s gross defense budget.

Two researchers from the Institute for National Security Studies, Shmuel Even and Sasson Hadad, analyzed the new FMF agreement immediately after it was signed in 2018 and found a significant rise in the cost of procurement, because IDF purchases from local industries are cheaper than those from the United States for the same type of products. But Even told BD on April 19 that, in spite of the new situation created by the pandemic, “any such request (for change to the FMF agreement) may be met with an unfriendly reaction.” Israeli companies with active U.S subsidiaries such as Elbit systems will be less affected than strictly Israeli-based firms, Even said.

Israeli officials say the expedited funds will speed Israeli decisions on the replacements for its old CH-53’s, 707 aerial refueling aircraft and the purchase of additional F-15 and F-35s.
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[*] posted on 14-5-2020 at 11:30 AM

US To Israel: No More Chinese Deals; Pompeo’s Flying Visit

Israeli officials said the message relayed during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's hours-long visit included a very specific political warning – Israel must stop any action that strengthens the Chinese Communist Party, even if that means canceling projects already planned.


on May 13, 2020 at 3:05 PM

TEL AVIV: The United States delivered a clear message to Jerusalem today – avoid further involvement of China in the Israeli economy. The message was one of the main reasons for the very short visit of American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Jerusalem — one day before the new cabinet is sworn in.

“The fact that the visit takes place in these problematic times proves its urgency ” an Israeli source said. Pompeo came to Israel with a very strict message – stop all Chinese investment in Israel, either in high tech companies or infrastructure.

Israeli officials said the message relayed during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s hours-long visit included a very specific political warning – Israel must stop any action that strengthens the Chinese Communist Party, even if that means canceling projects already planned.

Israeli sources said that the strict demand also stems from the suspicion in Washington that China is responsible for the effects of the coronavirus.

Good relations between Israel and China have caused heartache in the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem. For example, Israel was forced to cancel the sale of the Phalcon Airborne Early Warning System to China during the Camp David summit after money had changed hands. Israel was forced to compensate China for the cancellation.

As Breaking D readers know, Israel’s National Authority for Data Protection barred China from building communications infrastructures of any kind in the country, and Israeli communications companies are not using Chinese components in their communications equipment. The new directive will force big companies and organizations with national security implications to refrain from using Chinese made systems and components in their different installations.

But sources familiar with the issue say the steps that have been taken are not enough. “The Chinese use their resources to try and integrate into many Israeli infrastructure projects, especially on the communications and security aspects and that causes big worries” one expert here told me.

A document prepared by the intelligence community shows that there has been an increase of more than 1,700% in Chinese investment across the Middle East from 2012 to 2018.

Government officials and private sector experts estimate that Chinese investment in Israel has reached 40 billion shekels ($11.4 billion) over the years. Chinese companies bought one of Israel’s largest dairy products companies, and have won tenders and operating franchises to build the Carmel tunnels in Haifa, the Ashdod and Haifa ports and the Tel Aviv Light Train.

The Israeli security organizations are very concerned about Chinese involvement, especially at two strategic sites where the sensitivity is particularly high. One is control of the light train now being built here that passes close to Kirya, the site that includes the Ministry of Defense, IDF headquarters and the air force’s high command.

Israeli sources told Breaking Defense that the new demands by the US will create problems in some major infrastructure projects. They concede that not complying with the U.S demands will have worse results for Israel.

The issue of the Chinese involvement in Israeli programs became even more acute as Beijing strives to get big chunks of work part of the rebuilding of Syria after the long civil war. Russia has sent signs to that it is not happy with Syria’s willingness to consider Chinese bids.

Professor Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told me that the Russians expected that Assad will be open to all their demands after their investment in the Syrian civil war “Now, when the Russians are in a very bad situation due to the combination of the coronavirus and low oil prices, they discovered that Assad is playing power games. That angers Moscow very much.”

Moscow is using all its tools to be the main contractor to rebuild ruined Syria after the long civil war. In recent days, Russian publications have described Assad as a weak man, unable to deal with corruption and one that has completely lost the confidence of the business community in his country. The results of a public opinion poll conducted by a Russian Institute shows that only 32 percent of Syrian citizens will vote for Assad next year. The credibility of that poll cannot be measured but the line is clear. (Eds. note: Of course, Assad is demonstrably unpopular, since much of the population has spent years trying to kill him and his minions.)

The message from Moscow is very clear: we helped you when you needed it most. Now you have to help us.
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[*] posted on 14-5-2020 at 11:33 AM

One would have thought that the Israeli's had learnt from their earlier efforts at working with China........HARPY UAS copied (a number of versions), fighter copied (LAVI), ETC ETC.

Without USA support and financing, they are ferked! :no: :no: :no:
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[*] posted on 14-5-2020 at 06:31 PM

Quote: Originally posted by bug2  
Without USA support and financing, they are ferked! :no: :no: :no:

I believe that was the gist of what SecState conveyed; make a choice Israel, China or America.

It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
It is by the juice of sapho that thoughts acquire speed,
the lips acquire stains,
the stains become a warning.
It is by will alone I set my mind in motion
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[*] posted on 23-5-2020 at 07:14 PM

Securing technological superiority requires a joint US-Israel effort

By: Bradley Bowman   16 hours ago

An Israeli Iron Dome anti-rocket system, right, and an American Patriot missile defense system are shown during a joint U.S.-Israel military exercise on March 8, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States is now engaged in an intense military technology competition with the Chinese Communist Party. The ability of U.S. troops to deter and defeat great power authoritarian adversaries hangs in the balance. To win this competition, Washington must beef up its military cooperative research and development efforts with tech-savvy democratic allies. At the top of that list should be Israel.

Two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee understand this well. Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., introduced S 3775, the “United States-Israel Military Capability Act of 2020,” on Wednesday. This bipartisan legislation would require the establishment of a U.S.-Israel operations-technology working group. As the senators wrote in a February letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the working group would help ensure U.S. “warfighters never encounter a more technologically advanced foe.”

Many Americans may be surprised to learn that they can no longer take U.S. military technological superiority for granted. In his new book, “The Kill Chain,” former Senate Armed Services Committee staff director Chris Brose notes that, over the last decade, the United States loses war games against China “almost every single time.”

To halt this trend, the Pentagon must shift its ongoing modernization efforts into high gear. Early cooperative R&D with the “Startup Nation” can help in this regard. Israel is one of America’s closest and most technologically advanced allies. The country boasts an “innovative and agile defense technology sector” that is a “global leader in many of the technologies important to Department of Defense modernization efforts,” as the legislation notes.

Some may deem the working group unnecessary, citing the deep and broad cooperation that already exists between the United States and Israel. But, as the legislation explains, “dangerous United States military capability gaps continue to emerge that a more systematic and institutionalized United States-Israel early cooperative research and development program could have prevented.”

Consider the fact, for example, that the Pentagon only last year acquired for U.S. tanks active protection systems from Israel that had been operational there since 2011. Consequently, U.S. soldiers operated for years in tanks and armored vehicles around the world lacking the cutting-edge protection Washington could have provided against missiles and rockets. That put U.S. soldiers in unnecessary risk.

Such examples put the burden of proof on those who may be tempted to reflexively defend the status quo as good enough.

Given the breakneck speed of our military technology race with the Chinese Communist Party, it’s clear the continued emergence of decade-long delays in adopting crucial technology is no longer something we can afford.

One of the reasons for these delays and failures to team up with Israeli partners at the beginning of the process is that U.S. and Israeli defense suppliers sometimes find it difficult to secure Washington’s approval for combined efforts to research and produce world-class weapons. Some requests to initiate combined U.S.-Israel R&D programs linger interminably in bureaucratic no-man’s land, failing to elicit a timely decision.

Confronted by deadly and immediate threats, Israel often has little choice but to push ahead alone with unilateral R&D programs. When that happens, the Pentagon misses out on Israel’s sense of urgency that could have led to the more expeditious fielding of weapons to U.S. troops. And Israel misses out on American innovation prowess as well as on the Pentagon’s economy of scale, which would lower unit costs and help both countries stretch their finite defense budgets further.

Secretary Esper appears to grasp the opportunity. “If there are ways to improve that, we should pursue it,” he testified on March 4, 2020, in response to a question on the U.S.-Israel working group proposal. “The more we can cooperate together as allies and partners to come up with common solutions, the better,” Esper said.

According to the legislation, the working group would serve as a standing forum for the United States and Israel to “systematically share intelligence-informed military capability requirements,” with a goal of identifying capabilities that both militaries need.

It would also provide a dedicated mechanism for U.S. and Israeli defense suppliers to “expeditiously gain government approval to conduct joint science, technology, research, development, test, evaluation, and production efforts.” The legislation’s congressional reporting requirement would hold the working group accountable for providing quick answers to U.S. and Israeli defense supplier requests.

That’s a benefit of the working group that will only become more important when the economic consequences of the coronavirus put additional, downward pressure on both defense budgets.

Once opportunities for early cooperative U.S.-Israel R&D are identified and approved, the working group would then facilitate the development of “combined United States-Israel plans to research, develop, procure, and field weapons systems and military capabilities as quickly and economically as possible.”

In the military technology race with the Chinese Communist Party, the stakes are high and the outcome is far from certain. A U.S.-Israel operations technology working group represents an essential step to ensure the United States and its democratic allies are better equipped than their adversaries.

Bradley Bowman is the senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
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[*] posted on 26-5-2020 at 07:47 PM

Hidden Gems in US-Israeli Defense Industrial Cooperation

Suffering in silence under the crisis triggered by COVID 19 is not the way to respond to the dramatic market changes unfolding. Guest author Joel Alon outlines some of the positive prospects hiding in this dire situation, presenting new opportunities for Israel's struggling defense industries.

By Joel Alon -May 22, 2020760

In September 2016, the United States and Israel signed a Security Assistance Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), in which the U.S. agreed to allocate $38 billion in foreign military financing (FMF) to Israel throughout the decade from 2019-2028, reflecting an increase from 30.0 billion in the previous decade.

Unlike the past agreement, the FMF gradually reduces allowance for the procurement of equipment and products from Israel. Until 2019, Israel could convert about 26% of FMF into Israeli shekels (ILS) and spend it domestically. The new agreement reduces the share of aid that Israel is allowed to convert. The total of $815 million Israel could convert to local currency in 2019 will be cut by half to $450 million in 2025 and finally to zero in 2028.

In addition to the above conversion restriction, the agreement prohibits the practice of using FMF dollars to purchase fuel from the U.S. (mainly jet fuel) from as early as 2019. Going forward, this amount of $300-400 million per year (depending on fuel prices) will have to be funded from the domestic budget of the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD) in local currency.

The combination of these two limitations deprived the IMoD of $1 billion in ILS in 2019 and up to $1.88 billion per annum by 2028.

Until now, these missing funds were the main source of financing for local defense industries, and their elimination causes significant concern for Israel’s defense companies. In domestic currency, such a vast amount of missing funds poses a significant challenge to the IMoD’s ability to maintain the current level of defense R&D invested with local industries and the academic establishment.

COVID-19 Impact

According to the April 2020 IMF report, U.S. GDP is expected to shrink by 5.9 percent in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. Meanwhile, the Eurozone economy will dive by 7.55 percent, while the scope of global trade is expected to decline by 11 percent.

There are reasons to believe that the DOD procurement of weapon systems continues, thus helping the administration cope with the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. The U.S. could probably refrain from cuts in the FMF, especially now when a more significant portion of it is spent in the U.S. creating jobs that help stimulate the economy.

However, the situation in Israel is different. More than 70% of the revenues of Israeli defense industries come from exports. Most analysts expect that during the long and challenging path to economic recovery, the new Israeli government would be forced to shift budgets from defense to fund social and healthcare services. Government stimulus would be channeled toward Hitech, mainly in the sectors in which Israel has a relative advantage: I.T., biotech, automotive, and medical devices. Concurrently, while IMoD balances its procurement by optimizing the utilization of FMF to fill the gaps.

The slowdown of the U.S. economy would most certainly drive the administration to push back on a possible Israeli request to ease the requirement to send aid dollars in the United States. It would likely insist on the timely implementation of the shift or even demand to speed up the schedule and have all FMF spent in the U.S. to create new jobs and support the beleaguered local aerospace and defense industries.

These two factors would deny domestic funding to the Israeli defense industry. Moreover, being heavily dependent on exports, these industries would take another hit from the predictable decrease in military imports worldwide, following the need of all countries to support their local industries. The combination of these trends threatens to severely reduce the Israeli defense industries’ revenues and force them into extensive cutbacks.

The Silver Lining

Suffering in silence is not the only way for Israeli firms to respond to these dramatic changes. Hiding in this dire situation is a positive prospect that presents a new opportunity for the struggling defense industry.

Every year now, the IMoD will have access to more and more funds that can be spent only in the U.S., climbing gradually from $2.2 billion in 2018 to $3.8 in 2028, a surge of more than 72%. This translates into an additional $1.2 billion of available budget per annum to purchase goods from U.S. companies.

The FMF guidelines allow the IMoD to procure weaponry not only from U.S. defense contractors but from Israeli-owned companies located in the U.S. as well. Therefore, Israeli suppliers of IMoD who can swiftly transfer production to the U.S. will be able to compete for increasing volumes of IMoD contracts there. The IMoD is expected to encourage this trend, considering its desperate need to free chunks of ILS budgets to preserve unique R&D personnel and capabilities in Israel.

Accordingly, a smart Israeli defense company would transfer its technology (ToT) to a U.S. company. The IMOD would then contract with the U.S. entity using FMF. Then, with the profits from their U.S. operation, they would be able to fund the required R&D in Israel, support the IMoD’s unique requirements, and continue their growth in both countries.

ToT Models

Several Israeli defense industries are ahead of the curve on this matter. They have transferred their know-how and manufacturing to the U.S., positioning themselves to take advantage of the growth in the total FMF by pursuing several different models, as follows:

The M&A model, which characterizes Elbit’s long-standing practice in the U.S. this model is based on the acquisition of American companies that, in turn, are restructured as divisions under Elbit Systems of America (ESA). ESA holds a Special Security Arrangement (SSA) with the DOD that allows it to deal with classified products and information, erecting a firewall between it and the parent company in Israel. ESA is an entirely American company with a business volume of the same order of magnitude as that of all other Elbit facilities worldwide combined.This model requires significant capital investments that no other Israeli defense company can afford – certainly not before the currency-conversion window of opportunity is closed.

Furthermore, the U.S. government has declared the termination of the SSA classification mechanism. Therefore, any new Israeli company formed in the U.S. will have to go through a more complex and grueling proxy path that requires disengagement of all business and technological ties with the parent company, except for financial reports.

The royalties model has been followed by Rafael since long ago in the 1990s when it transferred the production of the Popeye cruise missiles (AGM-142) to Lockheed Martin in exchange for royalties. Rafael applied this model again recently, transferring the production of the Tamir missiles (Iron Dome projectile) for the IMoD to Raytheon utilizing FMF dollars. Rafael also teamed with Leonardo DRS to sell the Trophy active protection system to the U.S. Army. The IAI implemented a similar model in the 2000s by transferring the production of Arrow missile components to Boeing.

The organic growth model is represented by ELTA’s U.S. operations. Based on the establishment of an Israeli-owned U.S. enterprise, ELTA North America (ENA) is an entirely American company driving its growth of two business pillars. First, transfer of production (build to print) of subcomponents for systems intended for the IMoD. Second, in-house cultivation of marketing and engineering capabilities, offering unique solutions to DoD and DHS requirements, relying on Israeli R&D and source technologies. ENA prides itself on its capacity to customize these building blocks to swiftly address DoD and DHS specifications. Their modus operandi requires a security clearance and a proxy board of directors to build and maintain the firewall between the American entity and its foreign parent company. Impressively, from 2014 to 2017, ENA’s backlog grew from zero to $200 million, while returning all the setup debt to its owners.

The combined model is implemented by smaller companies such as Plasan Sasa, which transferred some production to its U.S.-based facility, Plasan North America. The locally produced kits are sold to DoD prime contractor, Oshkosh. This model is suitable for responding to DoD tenders but does not represent a full solution for utilizing FMF dollars for IMoD RFPs, as it lacks an independent engineering force that is key for such projects.

Facing the ToT Challenge

Despite the hype about a flat world and global village, American and Israeli companies and entrepreneurs have significantly different business cultures, work at entirely different paces, and operate in vastly different business mentalities. This cross-cultural gap is exacerbated in the defense industry’s case by the strict security restrictions of both governments concerning all defense R&D and production.

Consequently, creating a U.S. entity or merely transferring know-how to an existing U.S. company are challenging projects for an Israeli company, requiring multiple and complicated procedures that may easily take 3-4 years before the entity turns profits. ToT is not a walk in the park.

The major industry players from Israel need only enhance their existing U.S. production capabilities and streamline their activities to address the impending IMoD’s ILS shortage. In contrast, for smaller companies with no U.S. presence, production overseas is a challenging, expensive, and time-consuming task, which requires expertise, breathing space, and personnel they do not possess.

Accordingly, mid-sized and smaller Israeli companies seeking to offer their solution to the IMoD in return for FMF dollars need to urgently seek ways to reduce the time it takes to bite into this growing pie. Their need represents an opportunity for those that possess expertise in this niche, such as ENA, which over the last decade has gone through the process of developing procedures that comply with the demands of both governments, and has recently obtained a facility clearance. Moreover, any U.S. partner with experience in ToT for FMF projects can streamline the process for Israeli companies and conduct relationships with the DoD and the IMoD’s N.Y. delegation on their behalf, which is necessary to utilize FMF budgets.

Once the Israeli company decides to work with a U.S.-based partner, the ToT will require frequent visits of representatives of the U.S. facility in Israel and vice versa. Experience proves that these frequent interactions may create undesirable tension due to business culture gaps, slowing down, or even jeopardizing the entire effort. A wise way to mitigate this risk would be to outsource the inter-facility relationship. The challenge to this is the fact that there are very few professionals with the cultural expertise to work seamlessly in both worlds.

Switching back and forth between the Israeli and American corporations requires simultaneously speaking the appropriate professional jargon on either side of the ToT, and conducting their affairs according to suitable business codes and cultural nuances. Retaining such experts can significantly increase the probability of conducting a smooth and swift ToT and reaching actual sales sooner.


The reform in FMF utilization, combined with the expected cut in Israel’s defense budget due to the pandemic, forces Israeli defense industries to transfer their production to the U.S. This is a major undertaking for smaller companies that requires expertise, time and personnel many of them lack. The yellow brick road for these players – not only to survive but to thrive in this new era – is to take advantage of existing infrastructure and expertise that would enable them to seize this lucrative opportunity and turn it into profit.

Joel Alon has more than 30 years of experience in business development, planning, marketing, and operations, in the U.S. and in Israel. As a Senior V.P. Marketing at IAI Alon also led the establishment of IAI’s U.S. subsidiary Elta North America, acting as a shadow CEO for four years.
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[*] posted on 27-5-2020 at 04:00 PM

Israel, Pressed By US, Blocks First Big Chinese Deal


on May 26, 2020 at 5:26 PM

TEL AVIV: The strict U.S warning to Israel to limit ties with China has its first result as the Chinese failed to win a tender for the construction of the giant desalination plant in central Israel. The Palmahim site is in close proximity to Israel’s missile test and satellite launch facility.

The Soreq 2 facility, with the capability to process 200 million cubic meters of water per year, is expected to be the largest of its kind in the world, increasing the state’s desalination capacity by about 35%. The new desalination plant joins five facilities already operating in Israel. Two weeks after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and warned against further Chinese involvement in projects in Israel the Chinese company lost and an Israeli company, IDE.

That may lead to a confrontation with the Chinese. Two weeks ago, Netanyahu told Pompeo that the issue was under discussion by the Foreign Investment Committee at the Treasury. The US fears Chinese investments could create dependencies on China’s companies and countries, and is working to prevent them.

The next challenge: the Chinese and the power companies. In coming days, a decision will be made whether to award the Chinese government company China Harbor’s bid for the power plant of Ramat Hovav, part of the huge reform of Israel’s once government-owned electricity sector.

“The fact that the (Pompeo) visit takes place in these problematic times proves its urgency ” an Israeli source told BD. Pompeo came to Israel with a very strict message – stop all Chinese investment in Israel, either in high tech companies or infrastructure.

Israeli officials said the message relayed during Pompeo’s visit included a very specific political warning – Israel must stop any action that strengthens the Chinese Communist Party, even if that means canceling planned projects. For context, think of the numerous times President Trump has called the coronavirus the Chinese virus and blamed China for supposedly hiding the truth about the virus’ origins.
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[*] posted on 1-6-2020 at 10:22 PM

Iranian attack on Israeli water systems

Iranian hackers tried to increase the amount of chlorine in Israeli water during the Islamic Republic’s cyber-attack on Israel’s central water pumping station, the Financial Times newspaper reported Monday. A western intelligence official revealed new details regarding the Iranian cyberattack against Israeli water facilities. According to the source, the goal of the attack that took place last month was to “trick the computers into increasing the amount of chlorine added to the treated water that flows to Israeli homes.”

The Iranian cyberattack on the water plant could have triggered fail-safes that would have left tens of thousands of civilians and farms parched in the middle of a heatwave, as the pumping station shut down when the excess chemical was detected. In the worst-case scenario, hundreds of people would have been at risk of becoming ill.

“It was more sophisticated than they (Israel) initially thought,” an official told the FT. “It was close to successful, and it’s not fully clear why it didn’t succeed.”

Israel retaliated last month by carrying out a small, but sophisticated attack on the Shahid Rajaee Port under orders from Naftali Bennett, then acting defense minister. “It was small, very small — like a knock on the door,” said one official. “Think of it (as) a gentle reminder. ‘We know where you live.’”

The port was “roughly in the middle of the list of options” presented to Bennett after he demanded a list of potential targets for a response, an Israeli official told the FT. “Any disruption would be economic, nobody’s safety would be placed at risk, they would be reminded we are here, we are watching,” the official added.

Israel’s national cyber chief Yigal Unna officially acknowledged the country had thwarted a major cyberattack last month against its water systems, calling it a “synchronized and organized attack” aimed at disrupting key national infrastructure.

Unna did not mention Iran directly, nor did he comment on the alleged Israeli retaliation two weeks later, but he said recent developments have ushered in a new era of covert warfare, ominously warning that “cyber winter is coming.”
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[*] posted on 23-6-2020 at 08:25 PM

Israel’s defense export contracts were worth $7.2 billion in 2019

By: Seth J. Frantzman   12 hours ago

JERUSALEM — Israel’s defense export deals from 2019 totaled $7.2 billion and involved 120 different defense companies, according to the head of the Defense Ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate.

The country’s defense-related sales have been slightly declining over the last decade. Israel’s defense export contracts in 2010 also totaled $7.2 billion, but was down to $5.7 billion in 2015.

In his announcement, Yair Kulas said the large number of companies selling abroad “reflects the strength of the Israeli defense industry.” The former brigadier general added that he anticipated growth in government-to-government agreements in 2020, but noted that the coronavirus pandemic has “devastated the global economy and the defense sector.”

Israel’s three largest defense companies are Elbit Systems, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. The local defense industry has experienced consolidation in the past few years, with IMI Systems now part of Elbit, and Aeronautics Limited acquired by Rafael.

Ten years ago Israel was a world leader in UAV sales, but as its focus has changed, unmanned aerial systems now make up only 8 percent of the country’s sales. Today’s major markets for Israel are in radars and electronic warfare.

The Elta ELM-2084 — the radar used in the Iron Dome air defense system — was sold to the Czech Republic in a government-to-government deal last year worth $125 million. Elta is a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries.

Israel has also inserted itself into the missiles market, among other products, in India, where there are several joint ventures. Israel is also a leader in multilayered air defense thanks largely to its Iron Dome and David’s Sling systems, which Rafael co-produces with the American firm Raytheon. Elbit and other Israeli companies are also major suppliers of electro-optical technology.

However, many Israeli defense deals are not made public, and the destination country for products is often not released.

Israel says radars and electronic warfare suites made up 17 percent of the sales last year; missiles at 15 percent; and optics at 12 percent. Naval systems and vehicles were among the smallest portion of contracts.

Slightly over 41 percent of sales were in Asia, while Europe and North America each accounted for a quarter of contracts. Africa and Latin America were both at 4 percent each.

Israel historically sold UAVs and other items to Latin America and Africa, but the size of the purchases and lack of demand for the highest-end technologies appear to have led to minor contracts in these regions.

Israel has been trying to turn the COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity to work with foreign allies and partners, and not necessarily on defense but also medical needs.

Israel’s Defense Ministry says that Israel is among the top defense exporters in the world. Certainly per capita, the country is a global leader in defense exports. Up to 80 percent of its defense production is exported, according to the ministry.
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[*] posted on 24-6-2020 at 10:46 AM

Israeli general talks ‘military diplomacy,’ maintaining readiness during a pandemic

By: Seth J. Frantzman   1 day ago

Brig. Gen. Effie Defrin, left, runs the International Cooperation Division of Israel's military. (Courtesy of the Israel Defense Forces)

JERUSALEM — In the first months of 2020, Israel found itself simultaneously facing several crises. With borders closing amid the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a rising Iranian threat along Israel’s border, the Israel Defense Forces’ International Cooperation Division is playing a central role in building relations with the United States, NATO and neighboring states friendly to the country.

As head of that division, Brig. Gen. Effie Defrin has a unique view of how Israel’s “military diplomacy” is useful during a pandemic, in building trans-Atlantic relationships and for countering threats along the border. In a May 20 interview with Defense News, the 48-year-old officer discussed how the IDF is trying to maintain operational readiness, procure medical equipment abroad and preserve foreign relations, all while avoiding the spread of the novel coronavirus.

What is your role in the IDF?

I am responsible for international cooperation of the military, everything connected to it. I have two branches. One deals with our neighbors, the peace borders with Jordan and Egypt and the confrontation borders with Lebanon and Syria and international organizations, such as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in Lebanon and Syria, and the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai, which since 1979 helps relations and the peace treaty with Egypt.

Our second branch is international cooperation. We have all the Israeli defense attachés around the world, dozens of mainly colonels and one ranking general in the U.S. One of our branches is responsible for communications with them, day to day, and to help them do their job. Through them we provide our point of view [to foreign countries].

You’ve described your role as “military diplomacy.” What does that entail?

For the IDF, while every country does it differently, it is according to every state’s interests and needs, and in Israel we matured in the last decades to understand our role. Historically we are surrounded. We have historic awareness of being persecuted around the world; my father came from Romania after the Holocaust after his family was killed by Nazis, and my mother came from Morocco. We inherited the culture of surviving and being surrounded and the need for initiative and being creative, and going to sleep with one eye open and protecting oneself.

Military diplomacy runs counter to Israeli cultural thinking, our self-sufficiency, not relying on others, having own water desalination and tank factories, producing everything by yourself with one or two allies. The U.S. is our main ally, part of the family, like a big brother, and relations should be bipartisan.

After 72 years of independence and flourishing, in the last decades we opened ourselves to the external world and we are learning and sharing from other countries and sharing our experience. Every decade we have frictions with neighbors, and we advanced a lot. We have a good image as a military abroad due to our capabilities and technological capabilities. We try to share our experience with friendly countries. [For instance, the U.S. conflicts in] Afghanistan and Iraq, we learn from others’ experiences there and we try to utilize our relations to our benefit.

It is about gaining knowledge and explaining our point of view. We send abroad Israeli colonels who were educated here, and they spread our message around the world. We work with our diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Security Council; while wearing a uniform we are considered more straight-forward, which allows me to meet my peers, including countries we don’t have relations with. [During times I was posted abroad] I met only a few [foreign officers] who didn’t want to speak with me.

Describe the coronavirus crisis in the first months of 2020.

I began my duties in November. [I initially dealt] with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai, with Jordan relations, and relations with other countries, such as the U.S.. By January we had the issue of COVID-19. That was a new issue, and we needed new tools. We found out that the military way of thinking was very beneficial to fight the virus and support civilian authorities.

In the last few months, the central issue was recognizing the problem and using the international cooperation unit. We recognized [the virus threat] because we have defense attachés around the world, our representative in China and other places. I was speaking with our defense attachés everyday, even though it looked far from our borders initially. I couldn’t imagine that by March we would be isolated.

As a military culture, we began to think about solutions. We thought about maintaining operational readiness. We learned early that this virus is spreading exponentially and if you don’t take fast measures it will spread around the military and will damage operational readiness. So we did many initiatives: We isolated those on naval ships and pilots. We called each unit “capsules.” We locked units for four to six weeks at bases. It was a logistic challenge. The life of soldiers is sacred to us. We maintained 100 percent readiness. We predict and we are preparing for a second wave. We are listening to health experts around the world. We learn a lot from the experience of other militaries.

We have sought to learn from defense attachés or our chief of staff or chief surgeon, speaking directly, teaching and learning from others. We follow it now in Brazil and South America, seeking to help them.

How did you manage cooperation with the U.S. and its European Command during this period?

We have tight relations with EUCOM and an annual training usually around Passover in spring. This year, the week [the drill Juniper Cobra] began, the COVID-19 issues in Italy began and we had to utilize the drill because a lot was invested. The Juniper Cobra exercise [continued]. We did evacuate some American soldiers from here, [but] we utilized this drill as much as possible. It was great.

In terms of exchanging knowledge, the chief surgeon [held discussions] with Jordan, Europe and the U.S. We did some video conferences, including with NATO headquarters at the medical corps level. We were one of the first to deal with this issue effectively; we shared information based on our experience. There was no drill for the pandemic.

We found that the links and networks that we developed over the years became effective during the coronavirus crises because countries close themselves off. Using these networks and links that we have around the world helped us a lot bypassing bureaucracies as well as procuring medical equipment and ventilators. We collaborated a lot with different organizations such as our Ministry of Health, Mossad and military intelligence, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a command center at Tel HaShomer [near Tel Aviv] in this international effort and brought experience from abroad.

We provided medical support to international organizations, such as U.N. forces in Lebanon. We helped with COVID-19 tests; it was hard to get the tests to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, or UNDOF, on the border. We need them due to the deconfliction [with Syria].

Also, with Egypt and the Multinational Force and Observers, or MFO, we do a lot of work with the Egyptians [to maintain] good relations. We try to inspect the border together and prevent friction. With Jordan, we shared information at the medical corps level. It was very exciting, and I’m happy we have this level of cooperation. I wish it was like that with the Lebanese and Syrians. We have a trilateral meeting with the Lebanese with UNIFIL, Italian representatives, four to five Israelis and four to five Lebanese officers. We meet every five to six weeks. We had some friction with Hezbollah on April 17 — they cut the fence. It was alarming, and the way to prevent friction is these talks via UNIFIL. The main issue is to prevent friction and war. I try to prevent that.

How about relations with NATO and other countries?

We had 24 medical officers and chief surgeons of 24 countries talk with our chief surgeon in a meeting, and we spoke with the European Union. We shared information, and they were eager to listen to their Israeli counterparts. We did it because there was supposed to be a NATO medical conference in Lebanon in March and it was canceled, so we initiated this video conference.

[We also learned from] Italy, which had a difficult experience with the coronavirus. We had talks with our emergency doctors learning from counterparts on isolating cities and areas.

Also, with South Korea we learned a lot. Our defense attaché in South Korea was very helpful regarding reagents, gowns, mask [supplies] and learning about testing. A lot of shortages were overcome. You cannot do things alone; you must cooperate. We also had good cooperation with Germany, with their Air Force and Navy, including contact through talks. We also communicated with Mexico on the import of medical equipment.

The main issue is to emphasize cooperation and collaboration without an ego in the room. This involved cooperation with special forces, intelligence, medical cooperation and our [defense forces].

But this is not the end of it. We try to understand and predict.

So at the same time, Israel faced threats?

Looking around us, we can see that actions taken by enemies and foes, such as Iranian entrenchment around us in the north and south, it still goes on these days, [they are transferring] precision guidance for missiles. In the Golan and Lebanon, Hezbollah is building precision guidance and entrenchment in Syria and influence there. We didn’t have the opportunity to stop our readiness and go backward and relax; we couldn’t afford to do that. While thousands of Iranians died from COVID-19, we saw their efforts moving forward, not being reduced. So we had to protect ourselves and maintain readiness; we put a lot of effort into that.

[Security threats include] Lebanon, Syria, Islamic jihad in Gaza and Hamas. [They are] supported by Iran with money and knowledge. We are putting efforts in maintaining readiness. We want to change ourselves and look into the future — into the next four to five years and next-generation [technology]. We want to balance between readiness and change, using digitization.

Touch on the challenges and ramifications related to COVID-19.

It did push us as a military. Militaries are traditionally orthodox, we are romantic in how we look at the past. We sought to look at the future and see what challenges our enemies will prepare, to be one step ahead. COVID-19 put us into capsules and enabled us to use technology to train and learn, and it pushed us to improve communications, using new technology, how to do video conferences and logistically how to maintain a unit in the field for up to six weeks.

[Another highlight is] our support to civilian authorities in a democratic country. We needed to react quickly and bypass civilian bureaucracy. We used our intelligence capability, special forces, communications, logistics and transportation.

Is Israel’s experience unique?

Every country’s experience is different, but we are in the military and we are ready for an emergency situation. Because we have lived with emergencies, our situational awareness was an advantage. Despite political turmoil — [Israel had its third election in a year on March 2, 2020] — and other issues, our nature is readiness and awareness to emergencies. It took us one or two weeks, and then the Ministry of Health opened this center in Tel HaShomer, and all the units came.

What about upcoming military exercises with partners abroad?

We must analyze the situation. We have annual planning and training and meetings with partners such as the U.S., and [planning for exercises] didn’t stop completely, but some of it was postponed or delayed. We must look at the second half of 2020 and see how will we do it. How do we continue the effort of building our forces for the future? The Navy and Air Force [drills are easier to plan for].

I am responsible for the budget of international travel. We learned you can do this without physical interaction: We have video conferencing, and most activities we continued to do, and we learned how to do it better. We reduced physical interaction and saved money. We have more secure applications and secure communications.

In terms of secure communications, there were recent reports of cyberattacks on Israel. How does that affect things?

It is the future. I don’t know all the details, I can’t elaborate. I am not a cyber expert. It is interesting, it’s a covert conflict. There is a lot of exchange of information on this issue with private companies.
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[*] posted on 4-7-2020 at 04:53 PM

A Historic Agreement: IAI to Collaborate with the United Arab Emirates on COVID-19 Research

(Source: Israel Aerospace Industries; issued July 3, 2020)

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) entered a historic collaboration agreement with Group42, a company based in Abu-Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The collaboration between the two companies will cover research and development of solutions that may help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agreement was signed between IAI’s ELTA Group via a video conference call between UAE and Israel. In the call, representatives of both companies discussed ways to leverage AI and other innovative technologies including lasers and sensors, to develop new COVID-19 focused systems.

The solutions, as well as the joint medical and technological initiatives, are meant to help not only the populations of both countries but also aid in the global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and improve the healthcare situation of the entire region.

Yoav Turgeman, IAI VP and CEO of ELTA, said, “IAI is excited to sign the collaboration agreement with our Abu-Dhabi partners. COVID-19 does not distinguish between continents, peoples, and religions. We attach the utmost importance to a collaborative initiative that would yield breakthrough solutions. Over the past few months, IAI has mobilized its technological know-how, capabilities, and traditional boldness to help protect Israel and the local healthcare system. We are now proud to join forces with Group42 from UAE and take the first step in what may become future joint work by the two countries.”

As soon as the COVID-19 began spreading across the globe, IAI began to evaluate various ways to offer its trailblazing technological solutions to help Israel on the national level. IAI has collaborated with healthcare and defense parties, with the Directorate of Defense Research & Development (DDR&D), and with the State Companies Authority to understand the needs as they emerged during the pandemic.

ELTA is a global leader in remote sensing and radar systems. It offers an extensive portfolio of breakthrough strategic systems such as mission aircraft, national cybersecurity administration, ground robotic,anti-drone, and homeland defense systems, and more. IAI is a national technological know-how center for radars, satellite technologies, unmanned aircraft, civilian aviation, and cybersecurity.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is a world-leading aerospace and defense company innovating and delivering state-of-the-art technologies in space, air, land, naval, cyber & homeland security for defense and commercial markets. Established in 1953, IAI is one of Israel’s largest technology employers with offices and R&D centers in Israel and abroad.

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[*] posted on 28-7-2020 at 12:48 PM

Israel increases training via virtual battlefield center amid Hezbollah tensions

By: Seth J. Frantzman   3 hours ago

Israeli Defense Forces have completed several exercises with a new Brigade and Battlegroup Mission Training Center.(Elbit Systems)

Israeli Defense Forces have completed several exercises with a new Brigade and Battlegroup Mission Training Center.

Tensions with Hezbollah in Lebanon have grown this month and the IDF officials say they face a constant threat of attacks and need to be prepared to respond. Virtual exercises enable a brigade’s officers to train while not taking away resources from the field. The center is also part of a growing digitization effort to give more tools to the IDF during its multi-year Momentum plan that includes new networked technology.

Lt. Col. Netanel Shamaka, commander of the Special Forces battalion of the Givati brigade, said the latest exercise used this new virtual combat system and it “enabled us to get an in-depth understanding of battlefield scenarios.”

Two brigades have gone through the training in June and July, and up to eight more will go through by the end of the year.

“The IDF’s ability to improve and develop creates an atmosphere of initiative and innovation among the various combat ranks - which improves combat capability. The Givati Brigade is the first brigade to begin training in this way,” Shamaka said.

Training took place at the Training Command Headquarters at the Julis base near Ashkelon.

The B2MTC was developed by Elbit Systems. Upgraded twice with new capabilities, databases and after-action reports, the virtual simulator provides better coordination on the battlefield, according to Tal Cohen, senior director of land training and simulation at Elbit Systems. Virtual training centers, like the one the IDF uses, have been increasingly popular worldwide. Elbit points to its work with the Royal Netherland Army simulation center (SimCen).

“Military operations are becoming increasingly complex, while large-scale exercise opportunities occur less frequently due to cost, logistics and environmental constraints. Elbit Systems’ new trainer provides Armed Forces with a flexible and scalable solution to train commanders,” according to Elbit Systems.

The Givati brigade is usually deployed in southern Israel opposite the Gaza frontier.

“The training prepared us for battle from a different angle. we will implement this on the battlefield on the day of command,” Shamaka said. Israel has faced tensions with Hamas in Gaza over the last years, including more than 1,500 rockets fired and clashes along the border, incidents at sea and involving drones.

In addition, on July 23 Israel boosted ground forces along the Lebanese border over concerns about escalation with Hezbollah. Israel is also involved in a multi-year campaign to confront Iranian elements in Syria and around the region. This complex battlefield, using 5th generation F-35s and the latest air defense, with more concentration on special forces is suited to virtual training because modern commanders have more technology at their fingertips and face larger challenges dealing with systems that involve artificial intelligence and algorithms to aid in battle management.

During the recent training soldiers experienced fighting in simulated urban terrain fortified by Hezbollah. The simulators are divided along the lines of a brigade, with command rooms and platoon leaders and company commanders and exercises continuing for several days. Replicas of Lebanese villages appear on screens with the threatsthat the soldiers would encounter, such as Hezbollah bunkers. The system documents failures in the field and virtual casualties inflicted to help units learn from mistakes.

Because the IDF’s Momentum plan foresees bringing as many capabilities to the front as quickly as possible during a conflict, this digital battlefield aids in improving coordination. It is supposed to close gaps between battalion and company levels as well without eliminating traditional field exercises.

Cohen says recent upgrades mean the simulator gives more than 100 officers from company to brigade level access to peripheral units, logistics, UAVs, helicopters, artillery, aircraft and all the other combined arms and elements that may be present on the battlefield. That means that pilots have the opportunity to sit in the same room on the virtual trainer behind a screen and then meet with their company commander counterparts for after action discussions that wouldn’t necessarily take place in a field exercise.

With Hezbollah tensions overshadowing training this July, the virtual exercise mimicked real-world challenges.

“The virtual exercise was designed and generated to take place on the Lebanese border, in the Northern region of Israel. Facing the constant threat of attacks from Hezbollah, the IDF needs to be prepared to respond accordingly,” Shamaka said. “Should there be a need to destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure in Lebanon, we must be able to maneuver in a populated and complex environment. This virtual simulation system provides personnel with experience and familiarizes them with the hostile environment they would need to face in the case of conflict.”

In the past Israel faced challenges in the 2006 war because of communications problems between units and dealing with Hezbollah fighters dug-in to the rural terrain and rocket fire near villages.

Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, ground forces commander of the IDF since 2019 and a key part of the Momentum multi-year changes, has been pushing for increased use of the virtual simulators, Cohen said.

Elbit expects an expansion of training next year.
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[*] posted on 28-7-2020 at 03:33 PM

Israel: Lebanon Border Clash Follows JCS Chairman Visit

Gen. Mark Milley’s trip to Israel – his second in eight months – comes as the US and Israel heighten collaboration against Iran and its proxies.


on July 27, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Gen. Mark Milley and the IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, conduct a video meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

TEL AVIV: Israeli artillery bombarded a Hezbollah unit approaching the Lebanese border around 4pm local time (9am Eastern) today, while Iran reportedly prepared for live-fire wargames in the Gulf against a simulated US aircraft carrier. These latest escalations follow just after the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, visited Israel to coordinate the two countries’ efforts against Iran.

It was Milley’s second trip after becoming chairman in October. Since his November visit, a US airstrike killed Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Quds Force chief, relying on intelligence from an undisclosed friendly agency; mysterious explosions have ravaged Iranian nuclear sites, which Tehran has blamed on Israel; and Israeli has escalated strikes against Iranian advisors and Hezbollah proxies in Syria, where Iran may deploy its powerful Khordad anti-aircraft missile system against Israeli pilots.

Following recent strikes near Damascus, Middle Eastern sources claimed that the US is “participating” in the ongoing Israeli campaign to stop Iran from supplying precision-guided missiles to Hezbollah. Some sources claimed this was “active” participation, others that it was only “supportive.”

Gen. Mark Milley in meeting with Israeli senior officers.

While details are lacking, we can say that the US has long worked closely with Israel to gather intelligence about Iranian activity in Syria and Lebanon. During his visit, Gen. Milley met with the head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, and received a briefing from the IDF’s chief of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Tamir Heiman. Topics included the latest update on the Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Iranian efforts to buy advanced weapons from Russia and China, and Iranian operations in the Persian Gulf, especially the transfer of long-range ballistic missiles to the Houthi militia in Yemen. Iran is under an international arms embargo that currently ends in October but which the US is hoping to extend.

Milley also spoke with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and other senior officials. He held a video call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, discussing threats ranging from the coronavirus to Iran.

Israel is also running “dangerously short” on US-made precision-guided munitions after heavy expenditure in Syria and elsewhere, warns a recent report from the Jewish Institute for the National Security of America (JINSA).

Shortly after Milley’s arrival, the IDF announced it was elevating its readiness against a potential Hezbollah attack in retaliation for the death of one of its fighters in an alleged Israeli strike against Syria.
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[*] posted on 31-7-2020 at 11:47 AM

US-Israel Talks Focus On Iran, Syria, & Arms

Israeli defense ministry officials told their Pentagon counterparts that the US underestimates the danger from Tehran. Israel is also seeking more US-made F-35s, F-15s, and KC-46As.


on July 30, 2020 at 1:53 PM

An Israeli F-35I takes off from Uvda airbase during Blue Flag 2019.

TEL AVIV: Senior Israeli and American defense officials held their annual Defense Policy Advisory Group meeting this week, even as Iranian missile launches — part of of a massive wargame — put US bases in the region on alert. High on the agenda: The Israelis want to develop a detailed plan for how the US will help Israel out if the Iranian regime – under pressure from COVID-19, Israeli airstrikes on its proxies in Syria, and mysterious attacks on its nuclear program – lashes out with ballistic missiles.

While the details of the talks were naturally kept secret, they included the latest Israeli intelligence on Iranian threats, from its ballistic missile and nuclear programs to its proxy forces around the region.

Israeli also laid out its plans to build up its forces over the coming years, with a major emphasis on new aircraft – all of them to be bought from the US:

- The IDF wants to buy two additional fighter squadrons: 25 stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighters – to break through anti-aircraft defenses at the outbreak of war — and 25 of the latest upgrade of the non-stealthy F-15, the F-15EX – which can carry heavier bombloads through the resulting gaps in the enemy air defense.
- To keep these fighters operating at long ranges, Israeli wants to purchase the new KC-46A aerial refueling tanker, despite the program’s many problems.
- Finally, to support its ground forces, Israeli is seeking a new heavy-lift helicopter to replace its aging CH-53Ds, with the choice down to Lockheed’s much-upgraded CH-53K and Boeing’s CH-47F Block II.

On the intelligence side, Breaking Defense has learned that the Israelis briefed the Americans on Iran’s routes to supply advanced weapons to Lebanese Hezbollah via Syria. Israeli artillery opened fire recently on a Hezbollah unit believed to be approaching the border with Kornet anti-tank missiles.

What Israel pessimistically calls the “Campaign Between Wars” – implicitly assuming another major conflict is inevitable – has focused recently on Syria. But the retired chief of Israeli military intelligence, Maj. General (Ret.) Amos Yadlin, recently wrote that Iraq is now a vital link in the Iranian supply lines to its proxies and a potential base for missile launches against Israel.

The long-scheduled DPAG meeting comes on the heels of a visit to Israel by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, his second in eight months. The DPAG is co-chaired by the head of the Policy & Political-Military Bureau in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Zohar Palti, and Acting Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy, James Anderson. This year, for the first time, it was held via secure video teleconference, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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[*] posted on 4-8-2020 at 12:35 PM

Israeli Defense Minister Presses For Israeli V-22s

Earlier this year, the purchase of 12 tiltrotors was indefinitely postponed for lack of funds. Now the new defense minister – and prospective prime minister – wants to change that.


on August 03, 2020 at 1:20 PM

A Special Operations CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor refueling in-mid-air

TEL AVIV: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is pushing for the purchase of Bell-Boeing V-22 Ospreys, an acquisition long desired by the Israeli Air Force but put on hold in February over budget concerns.

Gantz, a retired lieutenant-general who advocated for the V-22 buy during his time as Israeli Defense Force chief of staff, became defense minister in May as part of an unusual coalition deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under which Gantz will become prime minister in November 2021. The Israeli government is in turmoil after three general elections in less than 12 months, disrupting the V-22 budget and other official business. On top of that, Gantz and Netanyahu — while coalition partners — are frequently at odds.

An important potential ally for Gantz in the Ministry of Defense? The former IAF commander, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, is now the MOD’s director general.

MV-22 Osprey in hover mode

Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who now holds Gantz’s old job as IDF chief of staff, has publicly said that Israel needs 12 to 14 V-22s. The tiltrotor is a hybrid aircraft that combines the long range of a turboprop airplane with a helicopter’s capability to take off and land without a runway. That makes it attractive to the IDF for high-speed, long-range raids and for emergency evacuation of Israeli’s gas pumping platforms in the Mediterranean. The Israelis have given Boeing & Bell a list of desired modifications, including enlarged fuel tanks and mid-air refueling capacity to extend their range, as well as avionics and other features found on the US Special Operations version of the aircraft, the CV-22.

In August, the IDF even issued a formal Price & Availability (P&A) request for the V-22 to the US Navy International Programs (NIPO), which oversees exports of the tiltrotor. But the IDF’s simultaneous needs for new fighters, aerial tankers, and heavy-lift helicopters ended up squeezing the V-22 out of the budget.

Last week, Gantz met with senior officers on the IDF general staff and ordered a reevaluation of February’s decision to postpone the purchase.
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