JERUSALEM — Israel’s Ministry of Defense International Defense Cooperation Directorate, or SIBAT, is expected to helm a strong showing of the country’s defense industry at the Eurosatory defense exhibition beginning on June 13 in Paris, inaugurating an Israeli pavilion featuring 56 local companies.
Amira Ilany, director for Europe and North America at SIBAT, said that “Europe is one of the most important markets that we have.” She said Israel is seeing interest in its “cutting-edge technologies” all over the world. Israel has three large defense companies: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems.
SIBAT officials are expected to help promote the country’s small and medium enterprises, in particular. The government views these smaller companies “as an important part of the ministry’s value system. We deem it of the highest importance to strengthen these innovative industries, and many of them will be participating in the upcoming Eurosatory exhibition,” said Ilany.
For the dozens of Israeli companies on the Eurosatory show floor the main theme is advanced technology. That includes the use of artificial intelligence, precision in either identifying threats or targeting systems, unmanned platforms and high-end applications for ground forces, autonomous systems, real-time data links, thermal sights and surveillance technologies.
These innovations, some of which are operational in Israel or already being demonstrated abroad, build on Israel’s recent multi-year defense plan, dubbed Momentum. The plan focuses on pushing technology to frontline units and knitting together formations using data and communications. Israel’s political leadership has recently highlighted a move into laser air defenses, and across the spectrum of Israel’s defense industry there is a drive to incorporate AI as well as doubling down on target recognition and situational awareness.
The result is that Israeli companies go to Europe with a cluster of recently developed technologies or increased capabilities for existing systems that they have unveiled recently, many pegged to Eurosatory.
For example, Rafael announced its new Spike NLOS 6th-generation precision missile on June 9. Rafael’s Spike family is used by 39 countries. In Europe it is sold under the name Eurospike, a joint venture between Rafael, Diehl Defence GmbH and Rheinmetall Electronics.
Rafael says its newest variant has improved standoff range (up to 50km), can be launched in a salvo of up to four missiles and can be fired from one platform, such as a helicopter, and handed off for guidance to operators on the ground. It incorporates image-matching abilities, according to the manufacturer
Alongside the new missile, Rafael said it is exhibiting a “new concept called the NLOS Mission Taskforce,” or NMT, a technology package enabling small units to engage faraway or hidden targets.
Rafael links the importance of these systems to the overall need for mobility on the battlefield as well as force protection with systems like its Spyder air-defense system and I-Dome, the mobile version of Iron Dome.
“The security situation in Europe has exposed the need for such defense technologies, ones that can cover vast areas and are easily deployed and relocated according to the needs of the assets in the given arena,” the company said in a statement.
A partnership of Israel’s Uvision and Rheinmetall also appears to be a nod to the Ukraine conflict because they will present an integration of the UVision loitering munitions systems into “next-generation manned and unmanned infantry fighting vehicles.”
These weapons will provide “frontline forces with a new independent ability to locate, track and accurately eliminate heavily-armored targets from long ranges, in challenging battlefield conditions,” UVision said in a statement.
IAI stressed the importance of threat detection for units on the move. The company said it will unveil the Othello-P product, “a passive, high-performance Gunfire Detection System (GDS) with integrated artificial intelligence processing.”
The system is designed to detect gunfire, RPGs and subsonic munitions, such as handguns. It can be installed on various types of vehicles as well as unmanned platforms. IAI stressed in a statement that the system came out of its Innovation Center, which is staffed with engineers who previously served in the Israel Defense Forces.”
The war in Ukraine is something of a backdrop for the Defense Ministry and many Israeli companies showcasing new technology. “We have learned from experience. With the crisis in Europe, all countries are assessing the situation over there for force building,” said Ilany.
“Other countries are assessing [their needs] for defense systems all over the world, everyone is watching quite carefully and I believe each nation will take the responsibility for finding how they can keep and protect their nation and I believe that this will lead to a substantial wave of increasing in investment in defense systems all over the world,” she said.
Among the other new technologies presented, there is a focus on unmanned systems or add-ons to existing unmanned capabilities. For example, Steadicopter is highlighting its new Golden Eagle, which the company says is “the first-ever unmanned helicopter with precise-hit capabilities.” It is based on the existing Black Eagle 50E platform and now uses artificial intelligence and Smart Shooter’s Smash Dragon system, which is essentially a rifle incorporated into a drone.
Robotican is unveiling Rooster, “a hybrid drone-robot for indoor and underground tunnel scanning missions.” It also makes a drone interceptor called Goshawk. Meanwhile, drone specialist Third Eye Systems has a new version of its Chimera payload for UAVs, which provides day and night sensors and vision-based object recognition.
As the Ukraine war surpasses 100 days the tectonic changes in defense posture in the United States, Europe and other countries have meant a new focus on Israel’s defense industry as off-the-shelf suppliers.
Israel’s Ministry of Defense, Foreign Ministry and defense companies have declined to comment on these reports, but Israel is keenly aware of monitoring end users and third countries acquiring Israeli systems.
“There is a deep process internally in the Ministry with relevant entities including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs representatives. We check every request ... we take into consideration humanitarian challenges and government stability when we check licensing processes,” says Ilany. “We check and each customer should bring us the end-user certificate and it is something we conclude through the process and licensing.”
Seth Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has been covering conflict in the Middle East since 2010. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.