Israel’s Military Technology Shapes Global Security

Israel’s importance, particularly for its primary patron, the United States (US), is evident in the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist sub-state group Hamas. Israel’s strategic importance extends to several states beyond the US, as Washington’s steadfast support during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war requires assessment from a strategic and military-technological standpoint.

Israel’s military campaigns against Arab enemies, such as the Six-day War of 1967 and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, have been highly successful. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have redeemed their intelligence community’s failures by delivering effective combat performance on the battlefield. Israel’s military performance has augmented its standing regionally for major powers like the US, as Tel Aviv’s success in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973 eliminated Soviet influence in the region.

The IDF’s operational performance in wars past and ongoing is reinforced by its role as a key military-technological power. There is a deep military-technical synergy between Israel and several Western countries, especially its primary patron, the US, as collaboration comes in the form of crucial Israeli technological inputs to American, Western, and non-Western weapons platforms.

Israel, despite its small size, is a significant exporter of military technology, accounting for 2.3% of global defense equipment exports from 2018-2022. Tel Aviv, the tenth-largest exporter of defence equipment, is a major exporter of advanced military systems. The US, the world’s most advanced military-industrial power, is the recipient of several critical subsystems developed by Israel’s armament industry for its weapons platforms. Israel’s Active Protection System (APS) called ‘Trophy’, developed by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems (RADS), is now integrated into the US Army’s M1 Abrams MBTs as part of a deal worth $200 million reached in 2018.

The British Army’s challenger 3 MBTs are also being equipped with the same APS as part of a contract between the Ministry of Defence of the UK (MoD) of the United Kingdom (UK) and RADS in 2021. The Iron Fist system, built by Israel Military Industries (IMI), uses an antimissile projectile for interception. The US Army’s light- and medium-weight armoured vehicles are equipped with the light-weight variant of the Iron Fist system due to its light weight, low shock generation when interceptors are launched, and affordability. These defense technologies have enhanced the capabilities of other countries, but there are several more from Israel.

Israelis have significantly contributed to Anglo-American ground combat capabilities and have also contributed to the development of the Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) used by aviators for the Lockheed-built F-35 Lightning III or the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) through a joint venture between Rockwell Collins and Israel’s Elbit Systems. India has also benefitted from Israeli military assistance during the India-Pakistan wars of 1965, 1971, and 1999. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has prolonged the service life of its MiG-21 Bison fighter jets due to cost-effective upgrades provided by Israel. Cooperation with Israel has resulted in the growth of all three Indian armed services, showcasing the dynamism of the Israeli defence industry.

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