Defense Digest September 2016

Defense Digest
September 2016

The U.S. Department of Defense approved the development of SkyCepter, a variant of the David’s Sling missile defense interceptor that will be co-produced by the United States, Israel and Poland. (Photo: Israeli Ministry of Defense/AP Images).

Pentagon Approves Variant of U.S.-Israel Developed Missile Interceptor for Poland

The U.S. government has approved a Raytheon variant of the David’s Sling missile defense system as a low-cost interceptor for Poland’s missile defense shield. Warsaw’s expected acquisition marks the first time a jointly developed U.S.-Israel missile defense system will be sold to a third party. The modified interceptor, named SkyCeptor, is the U.S.-compliant variant of the David’s Sling Stunner interceptor and will be integrated into the Patriot system. Poland is seeking to purchase up to eight Patriot batteries from the United States. SkyCeptor will be co-developed and co-produced by the Polish defense industry, Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Raytheon. According to a Raytheon press release, “The SkyCeptor interceptor is a new, highly advanced, hit-to-kill missile, developed to defeat short- to medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles and other advanced air defense threats.”

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United States Transfers F-15 Fighter Jets to Israel

The U.S. Air Force confirmed the delivery of 10 Boeing F-15D fighter aircraft to Israel. The F-15D variant is a two-seat plane that can be used either as a trainer aircraft or for air-to-air combat. In a Sept. 14 ceremony announcing a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Israel, which pledges $38 billion in U.S. security assistance to Israel from FY 2019–2028, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice referenced the F-15D transfer. “This additional funding will allow Israel to update the lion’s share of its fighter aircraft fleet, including the acquisition of additional F-35s and F-15s,” said Rice.

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U.S. Veterans with PTSD Find “Common Bond” with Counterparts in Israel

Female U.S. war veterans are traveling to Israel to receive help for their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Heroes to Heroes, a nondenominational New Jersey-based organization, provides emotional and spiritual support for veterans by organizing group trips to Israel. As a major component of the trip itinerary, participants meet with Israeli counterparts who also suffer from PTSD. In addition, the veterans have the opportunity to plant trees in memory of fallen soldiers, visit a rehabilitation center in Tel Aviv that assists wounded Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, and be baptized in the Jordan River. Trip participant Kamilla Miguel, who served in Afghanistan, said she was impressed by the supportive bond that IDF veterans had formed with one another.

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Pentagon Approves Israeli Radar for Testing

The U.S. Department of Defense approved the integration of an Israeli radar system into the Iron Curtain close-in active protection system (APS). Developed by Virginia-based defense company Artis, Iron Curtain is designed to provide protection for U.S. forces against shoulder-launched threats. Rada Electronic Industries Ltd., an Israeli defense electronics firm, announced that its RPS-10 radar would be incorporated into the Iron Curtain. According to Rada CEO Zvi Alon, “After successful integration and testing of the RPS…we are very happy with the opportunity to prove its operability as part of the Iron Curtain.”

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Lockheed Martin F-35 Program Manager Visits Israel

On Sept. 12, Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 Program Jeff Babione toured the Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) F-35 wings production line in Israel. IAI is anticipated to produce 811 F-35 wing pairs by 2034. Babione was shown the 13th wing pair currently in production. Israel has purchased 33 F-35 fighter jets from the United States, with the first two planes scheduled to be delivered to Israel by the end of 2016.

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U.S., Israeli Defense Chiefs Discuss Security Cooperation and Regional Issues

On Sept. 7, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met adjacent to a U.N. Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial in London to discuss Iran and other Middle East security issues. Secretary Carter “reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Israel's qualitative military edge and to strong U.S.-Israel defense relations,” according to a Pentagon readout of the meeting, which also stated, “The secretary and minister discussed regional security challenges in the Middle East including the ISIL threat, Iran, ways to expand and accelerate cyber coordination, as well as other areas of mutual defense cooperation.” The two defense chiefs last met in June 2016, when Lieberman traveled to the United States to accept delivery of Israel’s first F-35A fighter jet.

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