News Analysis – November 2015

General News Summary

Blood Dripping Riots

The wave of stabbing, stone-throwing and car-crash attacks has raised tensions among Israelis but not yet reached the proportions of a third intifada. At the start of November, the incidents, mostly concentrated in Jerusalem and the West Bank, with a relatively few in the rest of Israel, have claimed the lives of 10 Israelis and Israeli residents and 67 Palestinians, most of them after they carried out an attack.

Israeli security experts, both inside the defense establishment and outside it, point out that the attacks that have taken place so far have been individual initiatives mostly by one assailant trying to kill and maim Israelis, with a knife or axe, or by ramming a car into a place where a number of people have congregated. These attacks, by their very nature, inflict fewer casualties than the explosives and firearms used during the second intifada which began in 2000. In addition, there have only few the mass demonstrations by Palestinians that characterized both previous intifadas. But, as academic security expert Boaz Ganor points out, “they are more difficult to prevent because of the inherent lack of early warning intelligence. As opposed to attacks by terrorist organizations, in which there are usually a number of people in on the secret and involved in the initiating, planning, preparation and implementation, making it possible for security forces to glean intelligence through infiltration of the terrorist chain and foil attacks before they are carried out, ‘private initiative’ terror begins and ends in the teeming brain of the individual terrorist, with nobody else in the know.”

Israeli sources, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, say Palestinian incitement has been a major trigger of many attacks. These include entirely false claims that Israel is seeking to change the status quo that has existed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, which is both Islam’s third holiest site and holy to Jews because it was where the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago, once stood. Since the 1967 Six-Day War, the Wakf, or Muslim religious trust, has control of the Mount. The behavior of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on this issue is contradictory: on one hand, he makes statements that Israelis consider inflammatory, on the other hand the PA’s security forces cooperate with Israel in locating potential terror.

Affirming that arrangement has not changed, Netanyahu recently forbade ministers in his government and members of the Knesset from visiting the Mount. The effectiveness of that move, which eased tensions with neighboring Jordan, was however eroded by statements coming from senior members of Netanyahu’s government and coalition.

As might be expected in a tense situation, there have been some excesses and mistakes. While most initiators of attacks have been killed on the spot by security forces, or in some cases private citizens, preventing further casualties, there have been mistakes and aberrations, the mistaken-identity beating of an Eritrean foreign worker by enraged Israelis after a terror attack in the Beersheba bus station, and the killing by security forces of a Jewish man thought to be a terrorist in Jerusalem.

The situation in early November remained fragile. All indications are that both sides, including the Hamas regime in Gaza, have no desire for the current unrest to boil over into a full-scale conflagration. Though, of course, the potential for that remains a threat.

Abbas’s Real Power

Though PA President Mahmoud Abbas is perceived in Israel as a weak leader, his control of billions of dollars in the Palestinian National Fund gives him the sole power of deciding if the money put in by foreign donors is directed towards welfare of citizens or to other purposes, according to Calcalist, the economic supplement of Yediot Aharonot. One of the places the money has been going is into attacks by the Palestinians and the Palestinian Liberation Organization against the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

Syrian Involvement

A scenario in which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains in power due to Russian intervention in the country’s civil war would likely put Israel in a “delicate position,” according to an analysis by retired IDF major-general Amos Yadlin, former head of Military Intelligence. In a paper published by the Institute for National Security Studies which he heads, long-term Russian involvement is likely to serve as a “seal of approval” for activity by Assad’s Iranian and Hizballah allies in Syria “for years to come.”

Russia’s objectives in Syria are not clear, Yadlin says in a paper co-authored with Carmit Valensi. On the one hand, Moscow’s sole interest may be to preserve the regime of its ally and client Assad; on the other hand, President Vladimir Putin’s goal may be more substantial in making Russia a key player in all that goes on in the Middle East. In any event, he says that Russian intervention in Syria requires Israel to take another look at its current policy of intervention in the Syrian conflict. Though Israel has up to now avoided any more that might help remove Assad, Yadlin suggests that the Russian presence is a game-changer and that Israel now “must engage in active efforts to topple Assad and hand Iran a strategic defeat in Syria, while cooperating with regional and international actors that share Israel’s interests.”

Rabin Memorial

Israel President Reuven Rivlin and former US president Bill Clinton were among those who addressed a hundred thousand Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv’s packed Rabin Square on October 31 to mark the 20th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. A recorded message from US President Barack Obama was also projected on the large screens. Rabin, it will be recalled, was shot to death leaving a peace rally at this very square in 1995.

The Economy

Negative Inflation

The Bank of Israel is expecting negative inflation in Israel for 2015, for the second consecutive year. In all, projections by the central bank’s research department indicate a minus 0.1% inflation rate, more than 1% lower than the minimum inflation rate in the 1-3% target range for the year. In 2014, inflation was minus 0.2%.

Slower Growth

Israeli economic growth will total 2.5% this year, the lowest figure in six years, the Central Bureau of Statistics predicted in mid-October. The CBS said that per capita GDP would total NIS 137,000 in current prices this year, 0.4% more than in 2014. GDP rose by an annualized 2.6% in the first half of 2015 (2.5% in the previous estimate), following a 2.5% increase in the second half of 2014 and 2.4% in the first half of last year.

Moody’s Positive

In a report issued in early October, the Moody’s financial rating service left Israel’s ratings at A1, with a stable outlook, and gave the country high marks for economic and institutional strength. At the same time, Moody’s noted that political instability had kept budgets from passing, and the government frequently ignores self-imposed reductions to deficit reduction. The introduction of natural gas, the report noted, helped cover up part of the recent economic slowdown, and further delays could have a serious impact.

India’s Reliance in Israel

Investing in Israeli start-ups is only the beginning of cooperation with Israel, according to two senior executives of Reliance Industries, a holding company owned by Indian multi billionaires Mukesh Ambani. Vivek Rai Gupta and Rajan Luthra, who were in Israel in late October to participate in an Israel-India forum, said the only question about additional investment is the value, capability and synergy, in fields including retail and energy it can provide to Reliance customers in India. In addition to attending the seminar, Gupta and Luthra met with President Reuven Rivlin, who is due to visit India in the near future.

Flights Cancelled

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) announced in mid-October that it would stop flying to Tel Aviv, Moscow and Ankara this coming fall. The airline has been operating direct weekly flights on the Tel Aviv-Copenhagen route since June 2012; service will cease in March 2016. An airline spokesperson said that despite the success of the route – and its growth by 41% in 2014 and some 25% in July 2015 – the company was forced to cancel the route during the summer schedule due to the availability of medium-range planes in summer and the high expenses of flight crews for the evening flights to Tel Aviv.

Lack of Consumer Protection

Israel has no single regulator with sole responsibility for the financial aspect of consumer protection, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira said in a late-October report. Shapira said that because neither the Consumer Protection and Fair Trade Authority nor the Israel Consumer Council deal with the financial aspect, for which the Bank of Israel and the Ministry of Finance are responsible, private sector companies can overload consumers with offers of different types of loans, fanning a major increase in household credit.

In his report, Comptroller Shapira also criticized Israel Aerospace Industries for hiring outside consultants in a manner which is “irregular and unacceptable.”

Finance & Investment

Banner Three Quarters

Israeli high-tech companies raised $3.2B in the first three quarters of 2015, almost double the $2.3B raised in the corresponding period last year and more than double the $1.5B in the first nine months of 2013, according to the quarterly IVC-KMPG survey. In the third quarter alone, 165 technology companies raised $1.1B, slightly below $1.14B raised by 181 companies in the preceding quarter but 55% above the $703M raised by 170 companies in the corresponding quarter of 2014.

Venture capital backed QIII/2015 deals amounted to $908M in 100 deals.

Private Equity Soars

Israeli private equity investment deals totaled a record $1.67B in the second quarter of 2015, the IVC Research Center reported. The total of 29 deals was far higher than the average of 17 deals per quarter over the last five years. In the first half of the year, there were 44 private equity deals for $2.1B, four times the $592M on 44 deals in the first half of 2014.

Berlin Purchase

Israel’s ADO Group, based in Airport City near Ben-Gurion International Airport, has purchased 900 apartments in Berlin for 137M euros. After the purchase, ADO, whose shares are traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, owns 15,500 in the German capital.

GOAL! 90min, an Israeli contributor-driven soccer media platform, has closed a $15M investment round led by German media group ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, joined by existing investors Battery Ventures, Dawn Capital and Gemini Ventures. The company, which recently moved its offices from Tel Aviv to London, has raised a total of $39M since its founding four years ago.

Meanwhile Kaltura, a developer of video content platforms based in Ramat Gan outside Tel Aviv, has retained Goldman Sachs to help it raise $100M in the US. According to a Bloomberg report, both an initial public offering and a private round are under consideration.

Chinese Bidders

Three Chinese consortiums are finalists in the bidding for control of Clal Insurance Enterprises Holdings from the IDB Group, which is now under the control of Argentine Jewish businessman Eduardo Elsztain. The bidders were not disclosed, but Globes business daily said that market sources had indicated that they include Tianan Insurance and JT Capital, headed by businessman Li Haifeng; and Macrolink Group. The third bidder is apparently a consortium of Chinese companies and investment funds led by Harel Locker, the former director-general of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Western Digital-Sandisk

SandDisk has been acquired by Western Digital for $19B in cash and shares. SanDisk, headquartered in California with plants in Japan, has an extensive Israeli presence with development centers in Kfar Saba, Omer and Tefen with a combined total of 650 employees. SanDisk is also opening a site in Yafia, which is expected to hire dozens of additional employees from Haifa and Nazareth, especially from the Arab sector. Founded by Israeli-born Eli Harari, SanDisk acquired Dov Moran’s Kfar Saba-based flash storage developer M-Systems for $1.5B. It remains unclear how Sandisk’s acquisition will affect its Israeli employees.

Heartware-Valtech

Valtech Cardio of Or Yehuda, a Tel Aviv suburb, has been acquired by HeartWave of Framingham, Massachusetts, in a deal likely to total over $1B. Valtech develops replacement valves to treat the most common forms of mitral heart valve conditions. Prior to its acquisition, investment in Valtech, which was founded in 2006, was limited to the relatively modest sum of $70M. Largest investor in Valtech is the Peregrine Ventures fund, which held 10% of the company.

Bruker-Jordan Valley Semiconductors

Bruker Corp., a maker of high-performance scientific instruments based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has acquired Jordan Valley Semiconductors for a reported $53M. The deal for Jordan Valley, a provider of measuring solutions for controlling production processes in the microelectronics industry, includes $15M in milestone payments contingent on gross profit levels in 2016-17. Elron Electronic Industries held 19% of Jordan Valley’s shares. Other shareholders include Clal Industries, Intel Capital and the Israeli firm’s founders.

Gilbarco-Odysii

Gilbarco, a US firm, has acquired Tel Aviv-based Odysii Technologies, which has developed an analytics and consumer messaging platform for integration with point of sale loyalty programs, mobile phones and other consumer applications. Details were not announced, but market sources estimate the deal is worth $30-$40M. One of Odysii’s founders is CTO Yair Goldfinger, one of four then-young Israeli founders of ICQ, the pioneering instant messaging service sold to AOL for $400M in 1998.

Cyberark-Viewfinity

In a deal between two Israeli companies, CyberArk, specializing in cyber security, has acquired Viewfinity for $30.5M. Viewfinity, a developer of specialized security applications for Windows, has headquarters in New York and a development center in Beit Dagan, east of Tel Aviv.

Indian Stake in Irrigation Firm

Dhanna Engineering, owned by a wealthy Indian family, has acquired a 20% stake in Rivulis Irrigation for $34M. The seller, Israel’s FIMI private equity fund, retains 80% of Rivulis, formerly the water division of John Deere, which includes Plastro from Israeli Kibbutz Gat, and US-based T-Systems and Roberts irrigation.

Proquest-Ex Libris

Ex Libris, the Jerusalem-based developer of library automation software, has been purchased by ProQuest of Ann Arbor, Michigan for a reported $500M. Ex Libris, founded in the 1980s at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, underwent several changes of ownership before its acquisition by the seller in the current transaction, San Francisco-based private equity firm Golden Gate Capital. Ex Libris serves more than 5,600 customers in 90 countries, including 43 of the world’s top 50 universities worldwide and over 40 national libraries. Clients include Oxford and Cambridge universities, the British National Library, Harvard University and the Library of Congress in the US and the national library of China.

Mellanox-Ezchip

Mellanox Technologies of Sunnyvale, California, has acquired EZChip of Yokneam, near Haifa, at a company valuation of about $811M. Mellanox, a global supplier of InfiniBand and Ethernet interconnect solutions and services for servers and storage, maintains five offices in Israel. EZchip is a fabless semiconductor company that provides processing solutions for carrier, cloud and data center networks. EZChip is Mellanox’s third Israeli acquisition: In 2011, it bought Voltaire of Ra’anana for $208M, and in 2014, it acquired Integrity Project in Ramat Gan.

Rogue Wave-Zend

Rogue Wave Software of Louisville, Colorado, has purchased Israel’s Zend Technologies. Sale price was not announced, but it’s estimated in several dozen million dollars, substantially less than the $64M Zend has raised since its founding.

TAT Technologies-Chromalloy

TAT Technologies, based in Gedera southeast of Tel Aviv, has purchased Chromalloy Israel for $5.5M. TAT provides services and products for the commercial and military aerospace and ground defense industries. Chromalloy of Kiryat Gat, which will change its name to Turbochrome, is an FAA and EASA-approved repair station specializing in overhaul and coating of jet engine components, including turbine vanes and blades, fan blades, variable inlet guide vanes, afterburner flaps and other components.

Prosper-Billguard

Prosper Marketplace, a San Francisco-based online lending firm, has purchased Israeli start-up BillGuard for an estimated $40-$50M in cash and shares. Users of BillGuard, based in Tel Aviv, can track, manage and protect their finances and credit using the software. Prosper intends to integrate the BillGuard analytics suite into the toolkit it offers borrowers and investors.

Dialysis Chain Sold

Nephromor, a chain of private kidney dialysis centers in Israel owned by Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and the Clalit HMO, has been sold to Fresenius Medical Care of Germany for an estimated NIS 300-350M ($75-$90M), according to a report in Globes. Fresenius is dual-listed on the New York and Frankfurt Stock Exchange at a market cap of $36.7B.

Microsoft-Secure Islands

Microsoft is purchasing Secure Islands, an Israeli cyber security firm, for $100-$150M according to a report in Globes. Secure Islands, based in Beit Dagan southeast of Tel Aviv, has developed technology for tracking an organization’s documents, is Microsoft’s fifth Israeli acquisition in the past year.

Fortissimo-Origene

Fortissimo Capital, an Israeli private equity firm, has acquired half of the shares of seed producer Origene for NIS 40M. In purchasing the shares of Dov Godinger, one of Origene’s two founders, Fortissimo becomes a partner of Eyal Vardi, the other co-founder. Origene’s current revenue is estimated at about $10M, 60% of which comes from the US market.

Science & High Technology

Storedot Chosen

StoreDot, a developer of fast battery-charging technology for both cellphones and automobiles, has been chosen as Israel’s most promising start-up of 2015 by Globes. The company, based in Ramat Gan just outside Tel Aviv, has so far raised $76M from investors including Roman Abramovich, Samsung Ventures and Singulariteam. After initially concentrating on batteries for mobile phones, StoreDot began adapting its nano-based technology to automobiles. CEO Doron Myersdorf says that its new technology will provide new impetus to sales of electric-powered cars. ““One of thethings that has blocked the adoption of electric vehicles until today is the basic fear every driver has, like most smartphone users, that the battery will die when you’re out in the world. Every person who owns an electric vehicle needs to charge his car at home for eight hours. But what happens when you get home, your battery is empty, and your child calls you to be picked up while you’re charging? You’re in trouble because you don’t know whether you’ll make it back home.”

Tel Aviv Accelerator

Barclays, the global bank, says it will open an accelerator in Tel Aviv as part of its global network of Rise accelerators. The launch comes 5 months after a Barclays event in Israel sought to attract Israeli start-ups to its New York accelerator. The Barclays accelerator in Tel Aviv is designed for 10 start-ups in the Fintech and cyber security fields. Each program will last 13 weeks. The Tel Aviv site is due to open in March 2016; Rise hubs have already opened in London and NY, and another is scheduled for Cape Town.

Ituran’s Brazilian Deal

The Brazilian subsidiary of Israel’s Ituran has signed a contract valued at about $120M to provide location services for installation in General Motors cars produced in the South American country. The product both locates lost cars and immobilizes them if they’re stolen.

Kandel Named

Prof. Eugene Kandel, who chaired the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister’s Office from 2009 to 2015, has been named CEO of Start-up Nation Central, a NGO tasked with building connections between Israeli technology companies and the world economic leadership.

India Choice

Two Israeli start-ups are on their way to India, according to a report in Globes. They are eLoan, which has developed a platform for mediating between lenders and borrowers, and InQSec, specializing in communications security companies. InQSec and eLoan were selected to take part in the second class of the GenNext Innovation Hub operated by Reliance Industries, a concern owned by Mukesh Ambani, considered the wealthiest man in India, in cooperation with Microsoft Ventures. Ambani’s net worth has been estimated at $19B.

Anti-Infection Plastic

An anti-bacterial plastic material developed by Polycart Technologies, based in Kibbutz Metzuba near Israel’s northern border, has received certification from England’s IMSL laboratories for resistance to MRS and e-Coli bacteria. Menahem Greenspan, the company’s CEO, says that if used in hospitals, the material “can save the lives of thousands of people. He says the material can be used to coat hospital beds and carts, for storage facilities and equipment used by medical teams. After final approval from Health Ministry and other officials, Greenspan hopes the material can be introduced into Israeli hospitals quickly.

Cyber Power

Israel accounts for about a fifth of the world’s cyber investment, the head of Israel’s Cyber Authority said recently. $250M of the $1.25B invested so far this year. The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute says that last year, Israeli companies sold some $2.5B of cyber technology to the US, out of total cyber technology exports of $3B.

$400 Million Valuation

Tel Aviv-based SimilarWeb, which provides websites and mobile app publishers with intel about their own traffic and that of competitors, has raised $25M in funding to continue building its business both through organic hires and acquisitions. Valuation was not disclosed, but industry sources estimate it at about $400M. The round was led by South African media cpnglomerate Naspers, an active investor in start-ups globally, and included Tencent, Mail.ru and Flipkart.

Water Technology

Israeli exports of water technology amount to about $2B, it was disclosed at the recent Watec 2015 water exhibition in Tel Aviv. According to one report, the Economics Ministry is working with China on a “Water City” project that will serve as a model of water use for hundreds of other cities around the world.

Aerospace & Defense

Iron Dome to Gulf?

The Gulf states are negotiating to purchase Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, according to a report by the British Sky News TV station. According to the report, the Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman, wishes to buy Iron Dome for its six members. The cost of the deal is estimated in the tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

The version of Iron Dome which may be sold to the Gulf countries, all wary of the increased threat from Iran in the wake of the nuclear agreement with the West, is substantially different from the one that has been deployed successfully by the Israel Defense Forces. Its interception range will be longer, similar to that of David’s Sling, also jointly developed by Rafael and Raytheon, which is designed to intercept medium and long-range rockets. The Israeli Globes quoted Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al- Khalifa’s recent statement that “Israel has a small Iron Dome, and we in the Persian Gulf will have a much bigger one.”

More Iron Dome

A new joint defense production agreement between Israel Aerospace Industries and Reit, a Czech manufacturer of radar systems, includes the possibility of joint production of radars for the Iron Dome missile interception system. There have also been reports that Canada’s Ministry of Defense would purchase the Iron Dome radar system for $190M, after IAI and Canadian company Rheinmetall Defence won a tender. Canada plans to procure about 10 MMR radar system in the coming years, some of which will be manufactured in Canada. Radar systems of this type have also been sold in the past to four other countries around the world.

Electric Satellite

Israel Aerospace Industries is developing a small electrically-powered satellite that will weigh less than half of the weight of spacecraft with comparable performance on the current market. IAI CEO Yossi Weiss, interviewed on the opening day of the 66th International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem, said the new satellite, called Amos E, will cost “tens of percent” less than current satellites, will weigh less than 2 tons, can be launched from low-cost conventional equipment and stay in operational orbit for at least 15 years. According to IAI sources, no launch date has yet been set, though development of Amos E has been completed.

Trophy Development

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has introduced a new version of its Trophy active protection system for light armored vehicles. The system, called Me’il Ruah (Windbreaker) in Hebrew and designed to protect tanks and APCs, was fitted to an advanced Oshkosh Defense battle vehicle and displayed at the recent AUSA defense show in Washington.

Aussie Contract

Thales Australia and Plasan, based in Kibbutz Sasa on Israel’s northern border, have won a $1.3B Australian army contract for next-generation light armored vehicles. Plasan’s share in the Land 21 Hawkei project amounts to about $110-$120M in armored protection for the vehicles, due to replace the Landrovers currently in service.

In another development, Plasan recently unveiled a composite armor solution capable of providing protection equivalent to 12 layers of gapped steel, according to a report on the Defense Update website.

Zamir Named

Maj.-Gen Eyal Zamir has been named to head the Israel Defense Forces Southern Command. He replaces Maj.-Gen. Shlomo Turgeman, who held the post for the past 2½ years. Zamir, previously Prime Minister Netanyahu’s military secretary, was replaced in that post by Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano. Meanwhile, Brig.-Gen. Sharon Afek has been named chief military prosecutor.

Drone Detector

IAI has unveiled Drone Guard, a new system for detection of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at a mid-October defense show in Seoul, South Korea. Detection of UAVs is more difficult than conventional aircraft due to their smaller size and lower radar profile. The system has been fitted with 3D radar from government-owned IAI’s Elta subsidiary, and a jamming system which can prompt a hostile UAV to return to its home base, divert from its mission or even crash. Drone Guard has been tested against a number of possible scenarios, including attacks by multiple UAVs.

A few days earlier, IAI unveiled BlueDome, an independent, self-contained system designed to identify friendly forces in the battlefield, improving combat efficiency and preventing friendly-fire fatalities. BlueDome was on display at the AUSA Meeting & Exposition in Washington DC. At AUSA, IAI also introduced GroundPoint, a new, extremely accurate, geo-location targeting system for ground forces that pinpoint targets for GPS-guided munitions and minimizes collateral damage.

Facebook’s (Israeli) Satellite

About a year before it’s even launched, Israel’s Amos-6 satellite has a famous client, Facebook, the social media giant, which together with European satellite operator Eutelsat Communications will use the entire broadband payload of Amos-6 to deliver satellite broadband Internet to sub-Saharan Africa. Built by IAI for Israeli satellite communications firm Spacecom, Amos-6 is due to be launched in the second half of 2016.

British Use Tammuz Missiles

Responding to an urgent British request in 2007, Israel supplied guided missiles to UK forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to report in Haaretz. The first Tammuz launchers sent to Basra in Iraq were also mounted on hastily repainted IDF armored personnel carriers. Tammuz missile was originally developed as an anti-tank weapon in the mid-1970s as part of the Israeli military’s lessons from the Yom Kippur War, when large Egyptian and Syrian armored formations nearly overwhelmed Israel in a surprise attack. It remained officially secret in Israel until 2011.

India Asks Speed-Up

India has accelerated plans to buy unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel that can be armed, Reuters reported in late September. The request apparently came shortly after Pakistan said it had used a home-made drone in combat against militants on its soil. According to a separate report, India recently purchased 10 armed Heron TP UAVs from Israel in a $400M deal. India previously deployed Israeli UAVs along the rugged mountains of Kashmir for surveillance and on its disputed border with China.

Roboteam, based in Tel Aviv and Gaithersburg, Maryland, has won a $25M US Air Force contract to provide its man-portable Micro Tactical Ground Robots. The MTGR is a stair-climbing, battle-tested system supporting explosive ordnance disposal. MTGR reportedly weights less than 10 kg, carries its own weight in payload and can clear obstacles, climb stairs, operates in extreme terrain and has a line-of-sight operating range of over 500 meters. Other bidders on the contract included Foster Miller and iRobot.

Myanmar CoS Visit

Myanmar’s military chief of staff, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, visited Israel in late September on an official visit. Hlang is the first military leader from that country, formerly known as Burma, to visit Israel since 1960. The US and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Myanmar, though less stringently than before, due to its recent history of harsh military rule. The general met President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

Gen. Hlaing, who spent four days in Israel, visited Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit and Elta, the Israel Air Force base at Palmahim, the Ashdod naval base and the Gaza Division base. On his Facebook page, the Myanmar general said he and his delegation “rode and examined” a Super Dvora 3 patrol boat, “which is the same type of speed coast guard vessel Myanmar Navy has ordered.”

F-16 Health Check

Ground crews at the Israel Air Force’s Tel Nof base have developed new ways of checking the health of F-16C and D aircraft which are nearing 30 years in IAF service. In response to recent warnings about cracks in the planes’ airframe after 7,000 hours, rather than the anticipated 9,000, Lockheed-Martin recommended grounding the planes for extensive inspection and repair, an action that in Israel’s case would remove three squadrons, or 75 planes in all, from active service. IAF ground crews shortened the process: Instead of taking apart what one crew member said was “half the planes,” the crew used ultrasound equipment and gel, similar to what doctors use in hospitals. The result: Safe aircraft, with little or no reduction in the IAF’s level of preparedness.

Indian Intelligence Aircraft

IAI is adding advanced radar to a Russian-made IL-76 platform for an Indian intelligence aircraft. According to one report on the Internet, the work began at the Tashkent Mechanical Plant and was transferred to the Beriev Aviation Scientific-Technical Complex in Taganrog, Russia, as part of an option in the 2004 sale of three AWACS aircraft to India. Value of the work is estimated at $800M.Filipino Vests

Composite material manufacturer Achidatex Nazareth is supplying 44,000 protective vests to the Philippines Army, in conjunction to the Colorado Shipyard Company of the Philippines. The deal for Achidatex, a member of the DFNS group, is valued at about $40M, according to the Maxdefense website.

Leading Lady

Dr. Avital Schrift, director of missile systems at IAI Mabat division, has been named in the Globes list of Israel’s most influential women.

Elbit Sales

Private defense contractor Elbit Systems has sold its Advanced Multi-Sensor Payload System for unmanned aerial vehicles to an unnamed European country in a contract valued at $78M.

Elbit was also awarded a contract to supply 120 Lizard II laser-based guidance kits for standard MK 83 bombs to Brazil, in a deal valued at $2M. Lizard II kits will also be fitted to an attack version of the Italian contractor Alenia Aermacchi advanced trainer, together with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems‘ Spice precision guidance systems.

UAVs to Mexico

Aeronautics, based in Yavne south of Tel Aviv, has sold its Dominator XP unmanned aerial vehicle intelligence system to Mexico for an estimated $20-$30M. Dominator XP is based on the manned twin-engine DA-42 developed in Austria. Aeronautics says it is more reliable and has lower maintenance costs than other UAVs because it is a civilian plane converted to UAV use.

Swiss Buy Hermes 900

The Swiss Parliament has approved the purchase of six Hermes 900 surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles in a deal worth 256M Swiss francs ($250M). Opposition politicians had opposed the transaction on the grounds that Israel “systematically violated human rights” of the Palestinians. Swiss Defense Minister Ueli Maure defended the deal, saying that the UAVs would be “pathfinders,” and would not be armed.

Ben-Moshe Named

Nir Ben-Moshe, an aide to Defense Ministry director-general Dan Harel, is due to become the official responsible for defense establishment security. According to a report in Haaretz, the position includes responsibility for security of the Defense Ministry and other sensitive installations, including the reactor at Dimona and the Biological Institute in Nes Tziona.

Combat Vehicle Prototype

Work is under way on a prototype of Eitan, a new eight-wheeled combat vehicle, about half the weight of Israel’s Namer armored personnel carrier. According to a report in Defense News, the Eitan, production of which is expected to start within 4-5 years, will serve alongside the heavier Namer, and replace the M113 APCs still in IDF service. It will weigh about 35 tons and be equipped with new-generation active protection systems, an advanced turret, munitions and sensors.

At the same time Mafat, the Ministry of Defense’s R&D bureau, is working on Carmel, designated as Israel’s tank of the future. Defense Ministry sources told Defense News that Carmel would be a next-generation tank and not a replacement for Israel’s Merkava Mk4 tanks, production of which is expected to continue into the 2020s.

Karnaf Takes Off

The first upgraded Karnaf (C-130) aircraft has taken off, after a long process of improving the veteran aircraft’s systems. It is now anticipated that the Israel Air Force squadron that has been flying the aircraft for 30 years will continue flying the upgraded version till 2040.

Satellite Interest

A number of foreign clients, including South Korea, have expressed interest in a light satellite developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The satellite weighs about 100 kg, a quarter the weight of satellites from IAI, radically improving the launch speed and lowering the cost considerably.

Moving Forward

Tenders for the IDF’s teleprocessing campus in the Negev will be published in January, says Col. Asher Dvash, head of the unit in charge of moving army technology units to the new facility. When completed, the campus adjacent to the Beersheba technology park will house about 12,000 people, including 3,000 engineers from various ground and Air Force units.

Warning System

After suffering considerable casualties from rocket attacks on assembly areas during last year’s Operation Protective Shield, the IDF has introduced Barak, a new warning system named for its developer, Maj. Barak Hemo, 27, a Southern Command electronics specialist. The system costs only NIS 16,000.

Defense Budget

Less than half of the proposed NIS 58B proposed defense budget is dedicated to military operations, including the purchase and development of arms systems, according to a report in Yediot Aharonot. Most of the funds go to such items as pensions, transfer payments and salaries, the paper said.

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