TEL AVIV — Israel’s defense exports have soared to a record of $7.47 billion in 2012, making it the world’s sixth largest exporter of arms.
The 30% increase in global arms sales compared with 2011 positions Israel’s total weapons exports behind the U.S., U.K., Russia, China and Germany, and ahead of France and Italy.
“I wouldn’t speculate on our exact position,” said Shmaya Avieli, head of SIBAT, Israel’s defense exports agency, “but I could safely say that we’re well among the top 10 exporters.”
The figures represent the total of defense contracts signed in 2012 by all Israeli defense and security companies.
Countries in Asia continue to be Israeli defense companies’ leading market with 50% of the sales, $3.7 billion, concentrated there. India is the leading customer. Sales to Europe have increased dramatically, $1.6 billion, as the result of a $1 billion offset contract signed with Italy. In return for Israeli procurement of the Aermacchi’s M-346 advanced jet trainer, Italy committed to buy two Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)/Gulfstream G550 Special Electronic Missions Aircraft (SEMA) as well as IAI’s optical reconnaissance satellite. In early 2012, Germany also signed a contract to buy additional Rafael Spike anti-tank missiles, totaling several hundred million dollars.
Missile technology and air defense systems represent 25% of Israel’s overseas sales. IAI’s Barak-8 naval air- and missile-defense system continues to generate revenues through an ongoing $1.4 billion contract with India. Israel refused to confirm reports that the long-range naval missile was also sold to Azerbaijan under an estimated $800-900 million contract.
Surprisingly, Israel’s Iron Dome counter-rocket system, which scored remarkable results during recent conflicts between Israel and Gaza, has not translated its combat success into sales.
Despite intensive marketing efforts by Rafael to South Korea and India, neither country has yet selected the system, although the Republic of Korea acquired the Iron Dome’s multi-mission radar (MMR) for rocket detection and warning.