Sales on Horizon? Three unidentified men look at the view Jan. 8 in the Jordan Valley. The Palestinian Authority reportedly has demanded full control of the valley, which Israel considers its eastern border. A number of Israeli companies hope to offer electro-optical sensors and other gear to secure the border. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV — Israeli defense executives here are eyeing potentially lucrative, US-subsidized sales of advanced border security systems should Secretary of State John Kerry manage to prod Israeli and Palestinian sides toward a two-state peace deal.
More than a dozen local companies lay claim to myriad land, air and space-based elements of the sensor-fused C4I network, developed by Elbit Systems, protecting Israel’s borders.
Along most perimeters, long-range electro-optical, radar, acoustic and other sensors offer early warning long before potential threats have a chance to breach physical barriers. In other areas, unattended sensors dropped from the air or covertly buried underground provide virtual anti-intrusion tripwires, plugging gaps in coverage caused by harsh terrain.
While numerous political, ideological and security disputes threaten to torpedo the US-led peace drive, executives here say many of the operationally proven capabilities could potentially support an agreement to end the long-festering conflict.
Even if talks fail, requirements to fortify borders with Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Egypt and the long Arava border with Jordan will continue to mount, enabling Israeli companies to leverage and tailor terrain dominance capabilities for the global market.
The latest border protection system approved for export is the Elbit TREASURES, or Tactical Reconnaissance and Surveillance Enhanced System, which Elibit plans to showcase at this week’s Singapore Airshow.
Built around modular clusters of interconnected, miniaturized sensors, the system is designed to autonomously detect, classify and track targets on any terrain and in all weather conditions.
“TREASURES provides terrain dominance without having to be physically present in hostile environments. … Just three of these sensors can control a 200-by-200 meter area, or you can deploy thousands of them to control an entire border,” said Haim Delmar, vice president for C4ISR Systems at Elbit Systems Land and C4I.
The miniaturized components — designed for covert deployment and years of unattended operation — include seismic and acoustic sensors; two types of imaging sensors; and a solar-powered tactical radar. Other elements include an unattended omni-directional radar, day-night imaging detector, a communications unit and a relay device extending communication ranges to 20 kilometers.
“Each and every sensor offers exceptional capabilities, but the bigger issue is the command-and-control system that allows them to talk to one another and correlate all the information they receive. That’s what provides the closed-loop capabilities for border control,” Delmar added.
Low Probability for Success
In interviews here, executives were roundly dubious of Kerry’s plan to provide “state of the art” technologies to buttress Israeli security in areas to be ceded to a future Palestinian state.
Like Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, most here privately support some type of continued Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank.
Many echo Ya’alon’s warnings that promises of technology and increased US aid cannot suffice for the territorial depth needed to ensure operations at Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel’s sole air artery to the outside world.
Even those supporting territorial concessions inherent in the US-proposed peace plan assess chances for success as exceedingly remote, given the lack of leadership and political will on both sides of the conflict.
Nevertheless, executives here eagerly await details of a security plan by retired US Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, Kerry’s principal security adviser, to gauge admittedly long-shot opportunities to come from a prospective peace deal.
“It’s way too premature to discuss the role of local industry ... but if and when the political echelon is ready to come to an agreement, you can be sure that major systems will be made in Israel according to our unique security requirements,” a prominent industry executive said.
Technological and programmatic details associated with the Kerry-Allen security plan are being coordinated by Israel’s MAFAT Defense Research and Development Bureau and the Israel Defense Forces Planning Directorate.
The effort also involves nearly 160 US security experts from the Pentagon.