Israel’s Elbit Gets $53 Million From UAE Air Force for Systems Defending Against Anti-Air Missiles
20:46 GMT 04.01.2022 (Updated: 17:25 GMT 15.01.2023)
The Emirati government said it signed the 2020 Abraham Accords with Israel out of a desire to stop the annexation of Palestinian land in the West Bank, but since the deal happened, it has gotten several lucrative military and trade deals from Israel and the US.
Elbit Systems, a defense electronics company based in Haifa, Israel, announced on Monday that it had been awarded a $53 million deal to supply Direct Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) and airborne electronic warfare systems for Airbus A330 aerial refueling tankers used by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force over the next five years.
The work will include installing several J-MUSIC turrets on each aircraft, which carry small lasers for frustrating the targeting systems of heat-seeking anti-air missiles, such as those fired by man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) such as the US-made Stinger and the Russian-made Strela-2. Elbit will also install a passive detection system on the aircraft.
The UAE has three such aircraft and two more on order, according to an Airbus release from November, which notes delivery is expected in 2024.
The groundwork for the deal was laid in November at the Dubai Air Show, when Elbit established a separate subsidiary in Dubai, saying it “will seek to foster a long-term cooperation” with the UAE, which agreed to normalize relations with Israel in August 2020 in a deal overseen by the United States.
“The Abraham Accords provide a sound basis for business collaborations in the region,” Elbit’s executive vice president for international marketing and business development, Ran Kril, said at the time.
“The UAE and other countries in the region are important new markets for Elbit Systems. We believe that our broad portfolio of solutions positions us well to address the needs and opportunities in this region.”
Israel also made peace with Bahrain in 2020, but is recognized by no other country in the region, as the Arab League pledged in 1967 not to negotiate with Israel until it withdraws to its borders prior to the 1967 Six-Day War.
At the same time, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced a partnership with Emirati defense conglomerate EDGE to create an advanced modular unmanned vessel for the UAE that would be able to detect and attack submarines. The two companies also signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a maintenance center for IAI electro-optical systems in the UAE.
Since 2015, the UAE has been engaged in the catastrophic war in Yemen against the Houthi movement as part of a Saudi-led coalition. The coalition’s intense bombing campaigns and blockade of the country have greatly contributed to the humanitarian crisis, killed 377,000, according to United Nations estimates. Military equipment sold to the UAE and Saudi Arabia has also been spotted in the hands of allied Yemeni militias fighting the Houthis, including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula*.
Abu Dhabi mostly pulled out of the war in 2019, but some troops reportedly remain in the country. Western countries have continued selling them weapons regardless, including a French deal agreed to last month for $19 billion in Rafale fighter jets.
The UAE is host to three US military bases in Jebel Ali, Fujairah, and al-Dhafra, the latter of which hosts a variety of US spy planes and aerial tankers. While likely to side against Iran in the event of a regional war, the UAE’s national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, made a rare trip to Tehran last month, pledging a desire for regional peace.
*A terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries