Israel's other weapons sourcesdenied Israel Hellfire missiles for use in Gaza, and who are aware that Britain and Spain have placed an embargo on weapons sales to us, might be wondering whether Israel has sources for weapons other than the United States and Western Europe. Unfortunately, while we have such sales they are negligible.
According to Defense Ministry figures, around one-quarter of the output of the Israeli defense industry is intended for IDF use. The rest is exported.
Despite official Israel’s reluctance to get specific about its arms trade, reports submitted by various states to the UN’s Register of Conventional Arms shed some light on the matter. For example, Ukraine’s official reports state that two years ago, Ukraine sold Israel 193 missiles and 32 launchers. According to reports made as part of the voluntary disclosure mechanism, in 2010 Ukraine sold Israel four Strella (SA-7) missiles and two launchers, about 75 Igla missiles of various models and 10 launchers for them. It is not clear why Israel purchased so many Russian-made shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. The assumption is that they are being acquired as part of Israel’s development of systems to counter them, such as the aircraft-defense system. As recently as February, Defense Ministry officials and Elbit Systems announced the successful completion of tests of the Sky Shield system, which is intended to protects civilian aircraft from shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. Arms experts have said it likely that Russian-made missiles were used in the test. Still, the number of missiles Ukraine reported selling to Israel is relatively large even for that purpose. Defense Ministry officials declined to comment for this report.
Reports in the UN Register that were examined in recent years point to some more interesting acquisitions, mainly for Soviet-made arms that are not considered at the forefront of technology.
For example, in 2008 Ukraine reported that it sold Israel a launcher for BM-21 rockets — a launcher that the Israeli army used in the past after it was captured as booty in the Yom Kippur War and used during the first Lebanon War. Hezbollah uses it to fire Grad rockets. In 2006, the Czech Republic sold Tochka tactical missile systems to Israel. Two years previously, Bulgaria sold Israel six 130 mm artillery systems about which no further details were provided.
Against the backdrop of reports about Britain and Spain examining their arms sales to Israel, an expert characterized the amount of arms that Israel purchases from countries other than the United States as “negligible.”
Israel has signed several significant defense contracts with other countries in recent years. Germany provides Israel with submarines from its HDW shipyards in Kiel. Israel has purchased six submarines so far, three of which are in use by the Israel navy. The IDF has taken delivery of two submarines, with additional deliveries scheduled through the end of 2019.
Italy last year arranged to sell 30 M-346 training aircraft to Israel. The first of these are already making their first flights. As part of the deal, Israel sold Italy several defense products, an Israeli-made satellite and a deterrent aircraft produced by Israel Aerospace Industries in a deal estimated at $2 billion dollars.
Last month, the Defense Ministry issued an international tender for the purchase of “defense ships,” which will be used to protect the offshore natural-gas drilling rigs in the Mediterranean Sea. According to an Israeli Navy plan for the protection of the rigs that the defense minister and the chief of staff approved about two years ago, four more large vessels will be required to secure the area properly, at a cost of roughly 100 million dollars per ship. The names of several foreign shipyards — in Germany, Italy, the United States and South Korea — were mentioned in the past as possible makers of the ships that would protect the natural-gas fields.There are two answers. In the short term, export less and use our own arms. That will help only when the arms in question are arms that we produce domestically. Obviously, there are things (like submarines) that we do not produce domestically, and for which we will still be dependent on other countries.
But in the long run we should be developing our own military industry more than we have been. If we have learned nothing else in the last six years, we should have learned that there are even situations where we cannot count on the United States. We should not be dependent on anyone. Not even the United States. What if Hillary Clinton - or possibly worse Elizabeth Warren is the next President? We would have 4-8 more years of pressure and unreliability. It's time that we learn to cope on our own. We're a big enough economy to pull it off.