JERUSALEM — Israel and the Czech Republic has signed a $125 million government-to-government contract for advanced radar systems from Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary Elta Systems.
The deal, signed by Israeli Ministry of Defense officials and their Czech counterparts during a ceremony Thursday, is for eight ELM-2084 multimission radars, a technology used for Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling air defense systems as well as the Barak missile system.
The radars are for the Czech Mobile Air Defense Radar program. The program includes Czech businesses, whose work will make up for about 30 percent of the contract’s value.
Retired Brig. Gen. Yair Kulas, who currently works for the Israeli government’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate, said the agreement was monumental for Israel, likening it to a Czech arms deal that helped Israel achieve independence more than 70 years ago.
“This agreement will deepen and strengthen the cooperation and relations with our Czech partners,” Kulas said.
Yoav Tourgeman, IAI executive vice president and the CEO of Elta, said the deal has been in the works for more than six years, adding that Israel had to overcome competition to get to this point. After initial checks and tests, the deal went forward, the executive added.
Under the deal, the radar will be adapted to operate with Czech and NATO command-and-control technology as they are delivered through 2023. The multimission radar is expected to radically improve the Czech Republic’s existing systems, and it will serve as an opportunity for Israel to showcase its radar technology in another NATO country. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999.
Tourgeman said in a call from Prague that the deal will open more doors for Israeli industry to sell its surveillance and air defense capabilities in Europe. “All radar must be modernized to engage and detect and enable engagement of current and future threats,” he said.
The Czech Republic has been involved in negotiations over the last decade regarding missile defense, after a 2008 deal for the U.S. to position American radars to address ballistic missile threats there failed to materialize. The Czech government said in 2014 it was seeking to acquire mobile air defense radar. After passing over several competitors, it settled on the Israeli system.
Israel has worked to strengthen relations with countries in eastern Europe, particularly those in the Visegrad Group — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
Seth J. Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has covered conflict in the Mideast since 2010 for different publications. 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.