Air Defense: UAE Buys Israeli


January 26, 2022: Since Israel established diplomatic relations with the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in 2020, Israeli firms have been establishing sales offices or subsidiaries there. One of those is Israeli firms is Elbit, which now has a UAE operation called ESEL (Elbit Systems Emirates Limited) which negotiated their first big sale at the end of 2021. The UAE ordered $53 million worth of J-MUSIC Self-Protection Systems as well as Infra-Red-based Passive Airborne Warning Systems for UAE Airbus A330 aircraft, in particular the MRTT (Multirole Tanker Transport) version that the UAE uses for refueling its warplanes. J-Music and associated Passive Airborne Warning Systems are tested and certified for use on the MRTT and most other NATO transports, something UAE defense officials noted at a trade show featuring NATO standard systems.

Since the 1960s military aircraft have carried defenses against heat seeking missiles. These systems consist of special cameras that detect heat as well as images and movement that spot the tell-tale heat and movement of an oncoming heat-seeking missile. The system then, either automatically or under pilot control, dispenses flares or uses a laser or searchlight "gun" (in a turret) to deceive the heat sensor on the nose of the missile about where the aircraft really is. Flares were the standard countermeasure until twenty years ago when these military protection systems were installed on commercial airliners. These systems were soon banned in many European countries because the burned-out flares might cause casualties to civilians on the ground. Although Israeli flares were designed to float to the ground, their manufacturers decided to switch to the more expensive protection systems using a laser or high-intensity infrared searchlight in a small computer-controlled turrets. The new missile defense systems quickly dominated the market for commercial aircraft, which were often banned from using any kind of flares over populated areas.

For more recent systems using laser-based countermeasures, a third of the total cost is for the detection system. This now consists of two to six small cameras and a computer to figure out if it's a real attack and command the countermeasures to act. The rest of the cost is for the laser and the ball turret it operates from.

Israeli firms have been major suppliers of these systems, for commercial and military aircraft. Israeli aircraft have the most extensive experience with their systems dealing with heat-seeking SAMs (surface-to-air) missiles and a growing number of Arab countries want and can afford the best protection. With commercial and diplomatic relations now possible with Israel, firms like Elbit expect a lot of business.

One Moslem majority nation, Azerbaijan, ignored the Arab boycott and began buying Israeli weapons and defensive systems a decade ago. Impressed by the Israeli gear, oil-rich Azerbaijan, a former Soviet Union possession, is on the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan became a major customer for Israeli systems, purchasing billions of dollars’ worth and in the last five years about two-thirds of Azeri defense purchases have been from Israel. The Arab states noted this as well as Azerbaijan buying from Israel because the Azeris also must deal with threats from neighboring Iran. Arab military attaches operating out of their embassies in Azerbaijan talked to Azeri military personnel about the reliability and usefulness of Israeli systems and heard lots of compliments with very little criticism. Israeli customer service was also very responsive. For the Israelis, military sales to Arab oil states could be huge as more Arab states order from Israel. In North Africa, Morocco has already done so and Israel has quietly provided military assistance to Jordan and Egypt.




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