Defense Digest - November 2017

Defense Digest
Defense Digest
NOVEMBER 2017

Israeli pilots flew with counterparts from seven other nations in the largest-ever Blue Flag military exercise.(Photo: Israel Defense Forces)

Israel Hosts Seven Allies in its Largest-Ever Joint Air Drill

On Nov. 16, Israel and seven other nations completed the 11-day Blue Flag military exercise, the largest aerial exercise ever held by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Approximately 1,200 military personnel from India, the United States, Greece, Poland, France, Italy and Germany participated in the joint exercise. Israeli Air Force (IAF) officials said the exercise had three main objectives: strengthening diplomatic relations between the countries, exposing the participating militaries to new tactics and techniques, and improving military cooperation. IAF chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said the drill aimed to prepare the militaries for operations in the complex region. “If we wish to influence the reality that we will see a decade from now, we must prepare together to create common solutions and build effective international programs.”

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Israel Declares Ship-Based Iron Dome Operational

On Nov. 27, Israel announced the preliminary operational capability of a sea-based version of the Iron Dome missile defense system after it successfully intercepted multiple incoming test rockets. The new technology will be used to defend the Israeli coast, Israeli ships and offshore energy assets, which lie within missile range of Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations. “Officially, from today, we added another operational layer to defend Israeli assets in the Mediterranean Sea,” said Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovitch, commander of the Israeli Air Force’s Aerial Defense Division. “Now there is full connectivity between the ship-based Iron Dome, the Adir radar and our ground-based Iron Dome batteries. It was proven in today’s live-fire test and its performance is excellent.” Iron Dome has been credited with more than 1,700 successful intercepts since it was first deployed in 2011.

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Patriot Missile Intercepts Drone on Israel's Border with Syria

On Nov. 11, an Israeli Air Force Patriot missile intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle from Syria that approached the Golan Heights border. The drone is believed to have been operated by the Syrian regime for intelligence gathering. It was shot down over the demilitarized zone between the countries. “We hold the Syrian regime responsible for any firing or breach of sovereignty and call on it to hold back all players active in its territory,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in response to the incident. Israel has used the Patriot missile system to intercept drones on at least three prior occasions.

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Congress Supports Funding for U.S.-Israel Missile-Defense and Anti-Tunnel Cooperation

On Nov. 16, the U.S. Congress authorized a total of $705 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The funding level represents a $558 million increase over the president’s budget request and $105 million over last year’s funding level. Adopted on a bipartisan basis, this vital assistance would support R&D for and procurement of the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 cooperative missile defense systems—key programs that help Israel defend its citizens and also advance America’s own defense capabilities. The legislation would also extend the authorization of funding for critical U.S.-Israel anti-tunnel cooperation.

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Britain Purchases Israeli-made Iron Dome Technology

On Nov. 24, it was reported that Britain purchased advanced Iron Dome missile defense technology to defend the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory. Procured from Israel for 78 million pounds (about $104 million), the technology will be used to operate the British air defense system, Land Ceptor, which was developed by mPrest, a subsidiary of Iron Dome developer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. “Their technology will provide us with the main computerized system that will connect our modern radar with the launchers of the air defense system to strengthen the protection of the Falkland Islands,” said a source from the British Defense Ministry.

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