Photo: Israel Aerospace Industries

Israeli defense exports hit $8.3 billion

The International Defense Cooperation Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense has announced that export contracts reached $8.302 billion (approximately NIS 27 billion) last year.

The annual summary from the Directorate, known as SIBAT, reflects the second highest sales figures ever reached in Israeli history, with an increase of about 15% in exports – signifying $1 billion – over 2019.

This was topped only in 2017, when the total hit $9.2 billion.

Referring to concern the coronavirus pandemic would impact 2020 sales, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that, “Israeli industries, both small and large, have proved that they are among the world’s leading companies, both in quality and in technological advance – even during a year of global crisis.”

“During the past year, we have worked intensively to deepen government agreements and cooperation with our partners around the world, and we will continue to do so,” said the former IDF Chief of Staff, pointing out that, “Israel has new markets and significant opportunities for development that will contribute and inject billions into the local economy, bring new jobs, and contribute to Israel’s security.”

“The entire defense establishment and SIBAT will continue to take all the necessary measure to support local industries, while investing in Israel’s periphery and contributing to the resilience of the State of Israel,” the Defense Minister vowed.

He stressed that he ensures all of the nation’s trading partners operate on levels that meet Israel’s moral standard, and that weaponry is not supplied to countries facing genocide allegations. The Defense Ministry underscored that that it does not sell arms to authoritarian governments such as those in Belarus and Myanmar.

According to a statement TV7 acquired from the Israel Ministry of Defense, the most significant tiers of defense exports in 2020 were radar and early warning systems (16%), ammunition and armament (16%), manned aircraft and avionics (13%), observation and optronics (13%), missiles, rockets, and air defense systems (10%), weapon stations and launchers (8%), C4I and communication systems (8%), drone systems and UAVs (6%), intelligence, information and cyber systems (5%), vehicles and APCs (3%), services and other (2%).

By region, Asia and the Pacific region – including Israel’s Persian Gulf allies – accounted for the most purchases (44%, signifying $800 million), followed by Europe (30%), North America (20%), Africa (4%), Latin America (2%).

Gantz, who is slated to make a snap visit to Washington, D.C. tonight for strategic talks with US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, expressed his hope Israel can deepen Israeli defense exports to the American military.

“An increase in defense exports at the height of the global pandemic is a significant achievement,” commented SIBAT Head Brig. Gen. (res) Yair Kulas, saying “It is attributed first and foremost to the excellence of Israel’s defense industries and to their expertise – a result of their intimate understanding of military needs through the IDF.”

Gen. Kulas later noted that the “The Defense Ministry is cementing Israel’s status among the world’s top 10 defense exporters in the world.”