Israel signed new defense export contracts worth $8.3 billion in 2020, a rise of 15% from 2019, the Ministry of Defense International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT) reports – the second highest ever figure.
According to the report, 16% of the deals involved radar systems, 16% armaments and ammunition, 13% manned aerial vehicles and avionics 13% optoelectronics and surveillance, 10% missiles rockets and air defense systems, 8% weapons and launchers, 8% communications equipment, 6% unmanned aerial vehicles and drones, 5% intelligence and data systems and cybersecurity, 3% vehicles, and 2% miscellaneous.
44% of the defense exports were sold the Asia, 30% to Europe, 20% to North America, 4% to Africa, 2% to Latin America.
The report does not specify individual countries but Israel’s biggest customers are known to be in Asia and include India and Azerbaijan as well as Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
The most interesting market is the Persian Gulf countries in the wake of the Abraham Accords and this market is expected to grow rapidly due to the war in the Yemen and the growing dangers from Iran with the west likely to renew its nuclear agreement with Tehran.
SIBAT head Brig. Gen. (res) Yair Kulas told journalists that, “When COVID-19 began spreading we feared there would be a tectonic change with projects halted worldwide. We were convinced that no contracts would be signed during the year but that was not what happened. Among other things 2020 defense budgets were set in 2019 before COVID-19. There was also a desire by Ministries of Defense around the world to realize their potential during the work year because they understood that in the years to come they might have the same amounts, so they sped up as many deals as possible.” He warned that because of the COVID-19 crisis, there were estimates that there could be a reduction in new contracts in the company years.
Kulas revealed that following the Abraham Accords, defense sales to the Gulf countries amounted to $800 million and added that there is large future potential for sales to all the Gulf countries.
SIBAT said that Israel has maintained its position as one of the world’s top ten defense exporters and added that 70% of Israel’s overall defense industries production goes for export. Some of the deals last year involved IDF surplus equipment such as the F-16 fighter jets, which were sold to an American-Canadian owned company.
Minister of Defense Benny Gantz said, “I don’t want to sell weapons to countries that harm human rights or murder people. Our policy is to ensure that what we are sending around the world does not harm our defense advantages and does not reach end-users that do not meet the moral standards of the State of Israel.”