image Photo: Reuters, IAI

Possible joint missile defense by Israel, Gulf Allies

Israel could be open to future military cooperation with its new Arab partners in the Middle East over shared concerns about Iran, according to Israeli Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) chief Moshe Patel. The MDO is part of the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMOD).

When asked whether any of the IDF systems would possibly be offered or synchronized with comparable systems in Israel’s new peace partners Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates, Patel said, “Things can be done, maybe in the future.”

“From an engineering point of view, of course there is a lot of advantage,” he said, adding, “That information can be shared, like sensors that can be deployed in both countries because we have the same enemies.”

The IMDO head said it is still to early to pursue any such deals, and pointed out that approval from the United States would be required if any Israeli systems developed with American technology were involved.

Mutual concerns over malign Iranian activities were a driving force behind the 15 September signing of a Washington-brokered pact that formalized relations between Israel with the UAE and Bahrain for the first time.

Saudi Arabia has encouraged the rapprochement, while holding off on establishing its own bilateral ties with the Jewish State for the time being.

Patel’s statements followed the successful live test of a multi-tiered Israeli missile defense system that hit targets flying at different altitudes – and allow for any targets initially missed to be re-engaged.

“In the last few weeks, the defense establishment, together with the defense industries, conducted a series of tests – unprecedented in their complexity. Through these tests, we demonstrated that the State of Israel has a robust, multilayered capability to face a variety of threats – cruise missiles, UAVs and ballistic threats,” he said, underscoring that, “For the first time, we have demonstrated a multi-layered approach to dealing with threats – an approach that employs the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow weapon systems. Using this approach, a variety of threats may be identified and intercepted via full coordination and interoperability between the systems.”

Israel’s impressive aerial defense array is capable of shooting down ballistic missiles – including in space.

According to an IMOD statement, “the Iron Dome short-range rocket interceptor shot down cruise missiles and drones during the exercise. a series of live-fire intercept tests of the David’s Sling weapon system, against threat-representative cruise and ballistic missiles. The tests conducted were led by Rafael Advanced Systems from a testing site in central Israel, with the participation of the Israel Air Force and Navy. This successful series is a critical milestone in the augmentation of Israel’s operational capabilities in defending itself against current and future threats.”

Representatives of the US Missile Defense Agency, Israeli defense industries and Israeli Air Force (IAF) soldiers participated in the test. Rafael is the prime contractor for the development of the David’s Sling weapon system, in cooperation with the American Raytheon company. Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Elta division developed the Multi Mission Radar (MMR) and Elbit Systems developed the Battle Management and Weapons Control (BMC) component known as the Golden Almond.

Israeli Alternate Premier and Defense Minister, Benny Gantz said, “I commend the successful test, which for the first time, assessed the combined interception capabilities of the multilayered air defense system of the State of Israel. This is one of the most advanced air defense mechanisms in the world and it protects the state from threats near and far. These systems have been developed in a fantastic manner by the Directorate of Defense Research and Development in the Ministry of Defense and by Rafael. The systems in this multilayered mechanism provide Israel with a top tier strategic capability, enabling us to operate effectively in every scenario.”

Minister Gantz also thanked Israel’s “partners in the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. government and U.S. Congress, which support the State of Israel in the development of these systems and aid us in ensuring Israel’s security and operational superiority.”

The Executive VP and Head of Rafael’s Air and Missile Defense Division,  Brig. Gen. (Res.) Pini Yungman commented that, “The capability that was demonstrated in this series of tests ensures the security of the State of Israel and its ability to contend with current and future threats. When the different systems in the multi-layered mechanism are combined, they may face a variety of simultaneous threats and defend the citizens of the State of Israel.”

The U.S. Army has received one Iron Dome battery from Israel, with another one on order, Patel said.