Defense Digest - December 2015

Defense Digest
Defense Digest
December 2015

On Dec. 10, the U.S. and Israel successfully conducted a test of the Arrow-3 ballistic missile defense system.

Arrow-3 Missile Defense System Tested Successfully

The Israeli Defense Ministry and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) successfully conducted a test of the Arrow-3 ballistic missile defense system, Times of Israel reported. The Israeli defense ministry praised the Dec. 10 test as a “major milestone,” noting that for the first time, the system accurately engaged and intercepted a target missile. The interceptor was launched from Israel’s Palmahim air base at an incoming missile fired off of the Israeli coast. Jointly developed by the U.S. and Israel, the Arrow-3 is designed to counter long-range conventional and unconventional strategic threats to Israel, including nuclear, biological and chemical warheads. The upper-tier, exo-atmospheric defense system is currently in development and is expected to undergo further trials before it is deployed. To date, the United States has provided $2.5 billion in funding.

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NDAA Includes Key Pro-Israel Provisions

On Nov. 25, President Barack Obama signed into law the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes substantial U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense funding. The legislation authorizes $474 million for U.S.-Israel missile and rocket defense programs and $25 million for a new, joint U.S.-Israel anti-tunneling research and development program. The bill also requires a report on the military power of Iran and expresses the sense of Congress that Iran continues to conduct a range of malign activities that threaten U.S. national security interests. The authorization is part of a two-step process. The actual funding will be allocated through an appropriations bill, which is expected to be voted on before the end of the year.

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United States, Israel Conduct Joint Training Exercise

American soldiers stationed in Italy with United States European Command (EUCOM) held a joint training exercise with the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) elite Egoz guerilla warfare unit, Ynet News reported. Over 170 U.S. paratroopers and hundreds of Israeli soldiers conducted a week-long training exercise in Israel, including ambushes, simulations for capturing enemy territory, and both mountain and urban warfare. According to an Israeli officer who participated in the exercise, the U.S. paratroopers “left the exercise saying a big 'wow.' They didn't expect to encounter such a high level of training.”

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U.S. Engine Manufacturer Signs Israeli Military Contract

The Israel Air Force (IAF) signed a 15-year, $500 million agreement with U.S. engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney to provide maintenance for Israeli F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, The Jerusalem Post reported. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the American company will perform full engine maintenance, including logistical forecasts, management, upgrades and spare parts. The agreement—the first of its kind—also includes a commitment by Pratt & Whitney to give first priority to Israeli defense companies for related subcontracts. According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, the contract “will ensure that the IAF will have at its possession, at any time, a quantity of working engines, set in advance, for operating fighter aircraft.”

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Northrop Grumman Delivers Fuselage for First Israeli F-35 Aircraft

Northrop Grumman announced the delivery of the center fuselage for Israel’s first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, according to a Nov. 18 United Press International report. Since 2010, Israel has ordered 33 F-35As, a variant of the fifth-generation fighter designated AS-1, under the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The first Israeli F-35 is set for delivery in 2016. “The delivery of the AS-1 center fuselage is a significant addition to the growing list of allied countries that have invested in owning and fielding the fifth generation F-35 aircraft,” said Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems F-35 program manager Brian Chappel.

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