Israel’s Arms Exports Flourish Amid Abraham Accords

Israeli defense industries reported new contracts of arms exports worth a cumulative $11.3 billion in 2021 – up from $8.6 billion in 2020. According a report published in Haaretz on Sunday, the Defense Ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate, the volume of Israel’s military and security exports surged by 30 percent over the prior year.

A Syder surface-to-air missile is fired in a test (Photo: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)

With Israel striking Abraham Peace Accord which paved way for new diplomatic ties with Arab countries, it sold advanced Barak and Spyder air defense systems to the UAE, which is threatened by Iranian drones and missiles.

The report says that the growing threat from Iranian drones, including on the battlefields of Ukraine, and the wide-scale aerial attacks by Russia there have also highlighted the successes of Israeli air defense systems in dealing with similar threats, and boosted the European interest in purchasing those systems. Currently a huge deal to sell Arrow 3 interceptor missiles to Germany is on the table.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed that in the two years since the Abraham Accords, Israel has signed defense export agreements worth $3 billion with countries in the region, an enormous jump for a market that had been considerably off-limits to Israel. Last month, satellite photos revealed that the UAE has deployed a Barak missile battery to defend against Iranian ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones. Nevertheless, in the absence of an official announcement by Israel or by the UAE or IAI, it’s still not yet clear which version of the Barak system or how many batteries are involved. The monetary value of the sale also remains unknown.

Another deal that was revealed this year was the sale to the Emirates of a Spyder air defense system by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The Spyder system is capable of intercepting airplanes, helicopters, cruise missiles and drones within a range of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles). The Spyder’s design relies on a vehicle-launched system equipped with Python air-to-air missiles that lock onto their targets using radar and Derby radar-seeking missile. 

The report said another huge transaction took on much greater urgency due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Germany, followed by 13 other NATO members along with Finland, which is not a NATO member, joined the European Sky Shield initiative, which aims to create a joint aerial defense cover. As part of the Sky Shield initiative, Germany has made the decision to equip itself with the Arrow 3 system. It was initially reported that the sale would be valued at $2 billion, but after the other countries joined in, the anticipated price tag is around $3 billion.