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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Defense Digest: February-March 2020



The U.S. approved in March the possible sale of up to eight Boeing KC-46 tanker aircraft and related equipment to Israel. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)


AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr Addresses Importance of U.S. Security Assistance to Israel Amid Growing Threats On March 12, AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs to make the case for U.S. security assistance to Israel without added conditions, and for a robust overall foreign aid budget. He also addressed the importance of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship to promote American interests. “AIPAC strongly urges the subcommittee to approve the $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel envisioned by the 2016 U.S.-Israel memorandum of understanding. Our security assistance helps Israel preserve its qualitative military edge and limits the chance for war,” Kohr testified. “I also urge you—as you have always previously done—to reject the suggestions of some that the U.S. should use our security assistance as leverage to force Israeli policy changes. Jeopardizing our closest regional ally’s capability to defend itself would undermine U.S. interests and credibility.”


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United States Approves Possible Sale of U.S.-Made Tankers to Israel On March 4, the U.S. State Department approved the potential sale of up to eight Boeing KC-46 tanker aircraft and related equipment to Israel for an estimated cost of $2.4 billion. “The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives,” the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs said in a statement. “In addition, the sale improves Israel’s national security posture as a key U.S. ally.”


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Israeli Defense Firm Awarded Major U.S. Air Force Contract On March 9, Israeli defense firm Elbit announced that its U.S. subsidiary had won a U.S. Air Force contract worth up to $471 million. The defense firm will supply a missile warning system to U.S. Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command F-16 fighter jets. The work will be done in Fort Worth, Texas, where the subsidiary is based, over a 10-year period.


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Israeli Researchers Develop Anti-Drone Laser System A team at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has developed a laser-based defense system that will be able to shoot down the next generation of attack drones. The system, “Light Blade,” is safe to use in cities, and it offers defense against autonomous drones. “In order to operate most high-powered laser defense systems, the airspace needs to be cleared for many kilometers around so that the laser will not accidentally blind anyone. Our system operates on a lower frequency which makes it safe for urban environments. Airports, for example, could station our systems to provide complete coverage without endangering any pilots or passengers,” said Ben-Gurion University Professor Amiel Ishaaya.


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Israel Unveils New Multiyear Military Plan In February, Israel unveiled a new multiyear plan to restructure its armed forces to face existing and future threats. The plan—dubbed “Tnufa” in Hebrew, or “Momentum” in English—was presented by the Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, to the Israeli army and places an emphasis on combating the threats posed by Iran and its terrorist proxies. Momentum also seeks to shorten the length of a conflict while achieving more success on the battlefield and lessening the impact of war on civilians. “We may face a two- or three-front war — active areas or theaters simultaneously against different enemies and capabilities. We must address that,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said. This strategy is partly enabled by the U.S.-Israel relationship—specifically, close cooperation between the two nations in a wide variety of arenas, including air defense and the F-35 fighter jet.


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Type: Defense Digest