TEL AVIV. With Germany now reportedly in talks to buy Israeli-made air defense systems, there is hope in Israeli defense firms that new spending on defense equipment could come from Europe. But firms are also keeping a close eye on how much pressure Washington might put on European countries to buy American ones instead.
In public comments during a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on September 12, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid stated that Israel “will be part of the building of a new German defense force, mainly in the field of air defense. Scholz, for his part, called Arrow 3 “high-performance offer”; german source told Reuters that there is a “plan” to buy the Arrow 3, but the details have yet to be worked out.
Such a sale, if it goes through, would be the first time that Israel has exported Arrow to another country. And given the central role of Germany in Europe and on the continents increase in defense spending after the Russian invasion Ukrainethe deal could potentially encourage other countries interested in air defense integration with Berlin to also purchase the system.
Manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with US funding, the Arrow 3 is designed to protect against ballistic missiles. Since the US is providing the money, it can veto any export of the system, but sources here say Washington has given its tacit approval to the German sale if Berlin and Jerusalem can come to an agreement.
One senior Israeli defense official said other European countries were already in talks with the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Defense Industry about systems that could improve their ability to defend against Russian missiles. While air defense is a priority, other systems are also on the hastily prepared shopping list.
The senior source added that Poland, Romania and at least some Scandinavian countries are already in talks with the “right people” in Israel for quick acquisitions.
The only other major Israeli-made air defense systems under contract with Europe are in the Czech Republic, whose Defense Ministry decided to purchase four Rafael-made Spyder batteries in 2012, including IAI-made radars, under a contract worth approximately $520 million. . The agreement includes the participation of the Czech defense industry. Both Spyder and Barak MX systems are also being evaluated in Romania.
According to the source, Rafael’s Spyder and Iron Dome presentation is scheduled for early 2023. this was to take place at the Rafael training ground in southern Israel.
IAI and Rafael declined to comment, as did the Israeli Defense Ministry.
While Israeli industry may be licking their lips at the possibility of a large influx of money from Europe, they do so with the understanding that Washington could tip the scales in favor of American firms instead.
That the US might encourage European countries to buy American is hardly new; There is a long tradition of countries supporting their domestic arms manufacturers in competitions, and DC is no stranger to this. So the Israeli industry’s hope is that they can still get sales going, even though some of the increased European budgets inevitably go to the US (and their own European companies).
“It is very likely that Washington will put pressure on some of the proposed contracts,” predicted Amos Yadlin, a retired Israeli military and former head of the intelligence agency. “This will not be a widespread attempt to undermine business with Israeli companies, but some of the proposed deals with Israeli companies will attract opposition from Washington.”
A former senior official at one of Israel’s main defense companies said US pressure should be expected when European countries rearm, noting that “in the end, European countries will buy what they think is the best solution.”
The only country that is unlikely to buy Israeli weapons, even if there is interest, is Ukraine. Earlier this year, Jerusalem made a political decision not to sell advanced anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, lest it violate a fragile deal that allows Israel to attack Iranian-linked targets in Syria, a country controlled by Russia.
Kyiv has long shown interest in acquiring Israeli military equipment, in particular UAVs and communications equipment. However, in 2014, a deal between Kyiv and Israeli drone manufacturer Aeronautics was blocked by Russia, and since then Ukraine has not officially received military technical assistance from Israel.
The delicate relationship between Israel and Ukraine has prompted the Israeli Defense Ministry to impose strict “end-user” rules on countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, NATO members that have purchased large numbers of Israeli-made Spike missiles, according to a defense source. . As Previously reported breakthrough defensethe three Baltic countries were warned not to try to hand over weapons to Ukraine.