Israel Update – Week of April 23, 2023
Defense Collaboration: Last week, Reuters published the following headline: “Israel in advanced talks with Germany to sell Arrow-3 missile defense.” This is truly great news. Israel has, through necessity, become a world leader in missile defense systems. Arrow-3, made by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), is currently the highest layer of Israel’s multi-layer missile defense system. It defends against the threats with the greatest range, destroying them in outer space. Arrow-3 would be the go-to interceptor should the Iranians throw anything our way.
USIEA is very familiar with Arrow-3: We worked with the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) to support a flight test that, due to the extreme range of the system, could only be performed in Alaska, and USIEA took Members of Congress to see an Arrow-3 battery at the Ein Shemer Air Base during our 2019 Congressional Tour.
Germany, along with the rest of western Europe, is beefing up her air defense systems to protect the homeland against a potential Russian missile attack. The total cost of the Arrow-3 missiles is estimated to be approximately 3 billion Euros. If the deal goes through, it will be the first Israeli anti-missile system sold overseas other than Iron Dome, which has been sold in small quantities to the United States. Boaz Levi, the CEO of IAI, summarized the deal, “The cutting-edge Arrow-3 system plays a central role in Israel’s multi-tier air defense array. We value the opportunity to share our capabilities with the partners and allies of the State of Israel. Within the framework of this agreement, we further deepen our security ties between Israel and Germany.”
A seemingly benign sentence from the article caught my eye: “An export of this kind would be contingent on U.S. approval, the Israeli statement noted, given the Arrow system was jointly developed with the American government.” The U.S. plays numerous roles in the Arrow-3 program. The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) – part of the Defense Ministry’s Directorate for Defense Research and Development (MAFAT) – and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) jointly manage the development of the system. Further, while the missile is designed primarily in Israel, many of its components are produced in the United States. American production is spearheaded by Boeing and is performed by more than 150 American firms located in over 25 states. As a result of American involvement in the program, Arrow-3 requires approval from both the Israeli and American governments in order to be sold overseas. The good news is that it seems that the U.S. is going to approve the Arrow-3 sale to Germany. This is by no means a given or even expected.
A tremendous amount of defense-related collaboration is going on between the Israel and the U.S. Not only are the two countries co-developing systems like Arrow-3, they are engaging in joint maneuvers and exercises. JUNIPER FALCON is a joint, biannual U.S.-Israel rapid deployment and contingency response exercise designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and Israeli militaries, especially in missile defense.
In 2021, the Department of Defense established the U.S.-Israel Operations Technology Working Group (OTWG) to strengthen defense, science, and tech cooperation between the department and Israel’s Ministry of Defense (IMOD). The OTWG Charter calls for evaluating and sharing “options to develop and acquire intelligence-informed military requirements that directly support warfighting capabilities of both the Department of Defense and the Ministry of Defense of Israel.” The OTWG was then expected to establish “plans to research, develop, procure, and field weapon systems and military capabilities as quickly and economically as possible to meet common capability requirements.”
Over the past year, congress has expanded collaboration even further. The Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defenses (DEFEND) Act mandates authorize the US Defense Department to cooperate with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and the entire Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait – to develop and implement an integrated air and missile defense architecture to defend against Iranian threats. Just last week, Members of the Senate and House Abraham Accords Caucuses introduced the Maritime Architecture and Response to International Terrorism in the Middle East (MARITIME) Act, that requires the Department of Defense to develop a strategy with Middle East partners and allies to counter maritime threats from Iran and other malign actors. As far as defense-related collaboration goes, the sky is truly the limit.
USIEA has always been a strong proponent of defense collaboration between the two countries. And yet, we must realize that collaboration is a double-edged sword. In certain ways, it can bind the hands of both countries and limit their capability to operate autonomously.
Nevertheless, as long as the benefit is greater than the cost, the collaboration will continue to thrive.
Wishing you a quiet week,