While Alenia Aermacchi and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) vie for Israel's advanced trainer, a growing spat among the competitors and their national backers is beginning to mar what was widely seen as a rehearsal for the larger U.S. Air Force T-X competition.
South Korea is threatening to suspend all defense contracts with Israel, claiming that the highly contested tender for Israel's advanced trainer was already decided in favor of Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 Master over KAI's T-50 Golden Eagle.
Knowing it could never keep up with its potential adversaries in quantity, maintaining a qualitative equipment edge has always been key to Israel's defense planning.
Last year's agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for the sale of 84 F-15SAs and 170 APG-63(v)3 active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, therefore, has drawn particular interest and concern. Although some backers of Israel in the U.S. were hoping to scuttle the deal, Israel has opted to pursue a path to assure it maintains a competitive technical edge.
When the so-called Arab Spring uprisings kicked off, many Israelis began to worry that their country's security environment would be far more fluid and more dangerous.
That reality is now setting in. After deciding to speed deployment of the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, the Israeli government is now also concerned that commercial aircraft may be increasingly vulnerable to attack from man-portable air-defense system (Manpads) missiles.
Israel's path to fielding the Joint Strike Fighter has been particularly fraught, and now—with technology and funding issues largely sorted out—the fielding schedule is under question.
Israel faces another delay in deliveries of its first F-35s, currently scheduled for early 2017. Although Lockheed Martin has pledged to deliver the aircraft a year early, Pentagon officials have now told their Israeli counterparts that the first squadron will not be completed until 2019. Israel has committed to buying up to 20 F-35s.
Mounting tensions between Israel and its neighbors are adding urgency to Israel's plan to field additional Iron Dome anti-rocket systems.
The problem at hand is that an increase in operational use of the system has exposed shortcomings that have led six out of 30 intercept attempts to fail in Iron Dome's second combat test. The rockets that were missed resulted in fatalities and injuries to Israeli civilians.
With its long experience in operating a wide variety of platforms and sensors in combat, Israel now considers the need to fuse information into a coherent, real-time intelligence picture as one of its biggest tasks.
In the cyber-realm—which now has an extensive overlap with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)—Israeli researchers realize that most information is already available, but the challenge is to detect it in real time and immediately translate it into action.
Precision weapons and unmanned aircraft technologies are two realms in which the Israeli military can rightly claim leadership positions. But just how closely the two have been linked in secret is just starting to become clear.
After two years of simmering tensions, Israel and Turkey are looking for ways to put their defense relationship back on a stronger footing.
In the 1990s, the two countries were close allies with strong defense industrial ties. But a political shift in Turkey caused the relationship to fray; it reached a crisis point that began during the Gaza War between Israel and Hamas in late 2008 and surged after Israel intercepted a Turkish-led flotilla to Gaza in May 2010.
A major obstacle blocking Israel's purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been cleared, perhaps signaling that the U.S. is relaxing its hard-line approach to exporting JSF technologies that may be crucial to securing additional foreign sales.
As the tight race between Alenia Aermacchi and Korea Aerospace Industries in Israel's trainer competition approaches the finish line, the Israeli air force appears to be favoring the Italian M-346 over KAI's T-50 Golden Eagle.
“Both are excellent platforms,” a senior Israel air force official tells Aviation Week.“But the Italian offer seems more attractive in terms of costs.”
Israel may already have been at the cyberwarfare forefront, but the government has determined that a surge in computer network attacks requires even greater effort to thwart potential new threats.
To that end, Israel has established a national cyber-administration in the prime minister's office to improve the country's defensive capabilities. The new organization marks a modest change of course, since Israel was previously focused more on offensive cybertactics.
The Israeli government is moving to expand a rocket protection shield across the entire country after months of heated discussion about how to proceed.
“In two and a half years, the whole of Israel will be covered with an Iron Dome, protecting it from rocket attacks,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared during a visit to the Paris air show here.
The race between Iran's ballistic missile efforts and Israel's anti-missile activities is entering a new stage. As Iran more quietly tries to improve its offensive capacities, Israel is striving to keep pace by fielding a more effective defensive shield.
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