Israeli Ministry of Defence Under Pressure to Approve Export of Weapon Systems Developed for Armed UAVs

By Arie Egozi

Defence Industry

Tel Aviv: The Israeli ministry of defence is still blocking the export of Israeli weapon systems that have been developed for the armed UAVs of the Israeli Air Force (IAF). The Israeli defence industries are putting heavy pressure on the ministry of defence to approve the export of these systems.

Days after the Israeli military censorship lifted the gag order on the fact that the IAF is using armed UAVs, some foreign armed forces made initial contacts with the Israeli defence companies involved. The gag order was in place for more than 20 years.

The official ban was in place in spite of the fact that the armed UAVs have been photographed over Gaza and Lebanon. Now the gag order has been removed, but the types of weapons carried by these UAVs are still classified.

Tal Inbar, an Israeli defence analyst told Raksha Anirveda that the policy of the ministry of defence looks strange when many foreign countries sell huge numbers of armed UAVs with a line of weapon systems.

“There is no vacuum. The Israeli defence industries can double the sales of armed UAVs if they can also sell the dedicated weapon systems,” he said.

The ministry of defence was reluctant to comment on the policy. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) had first purchased an armed UAV in 1990. This was the Elbit Systems Hermes -450 dubbed “Zik” (Spark). This armed UAV has since been used extensively mainly in Gaza to perform pinpoint attacks on terror targets. This armed UAV has also been used in Lebanon against Hezbollah targets.

In the ongoing war with terror organisations in Gaza and Lebanon the armed UAVs have performed a huge number of strikes mainly on moving targets like teams that were on their way to launch rockets.

The demand for armed UAVs grew as they proved their efficiency and the IAF acquired other types of armed UAVs – the Hermes 900 made by Elbit and the Heron TP made by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The Israeli defence industries, namely Rafael and IAI developed special weapon systems for the IAF’s armed UAVs.

According to Israeli sources, the IAF has developed a doctrine of using its armed UAVs in different scenarios. This includes using formations and different missiles.

The Israeli sources said that the UAVs armed with the missiles are equipped with very advanced payloads that help detect the targets “under very severe” conditions. As the Heron TP is a big UAV with long endurance, it can carry a mix of weapon systems to perform different missions.