Defense firms substitute Brazil for Turkey

“We woke up late to globalization, and there’s now a need to close gaps and even get ahead of competitors,” IAI CEO says.

By YUVAL AZULAI/GLOBES
April 11, 2011 23:31
2 minute read.
Ehud Barak at IAI with 'Ghost' UAV

Barak at IAI with Ghost UAV drone 311. (photo credit: GIDEON MARKOWICZ)

 
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Ten months after Israeli-Turkish relations ran aground in the wake of the flotilla to Gaza, Israel’s defense industry seems to have found an alternative to Turkey in Latin America. At the LAAD Defense and Security 2011 exposition, which opens in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, Israeli companies will display their wares for the battlefield and protection of sensitive facilities.

“We woke up late to globalization, and there’s now a need to close gaps and even get ahead of competitors,” Israel Aerospace Industries CEO Itzhak Nissan said. “We can do this thanks to our portfolio of products in various fields, including satellites, launchers, unmanned aerial vehicles, missiles and planes.

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Thanks to new understandings recently reached between Israel and Brazil, we can sell more to the Brazilian market and expand our business collaboration with it.”

The Israeli-Brazilian agreement reflects the new standing of Brazil and other Latin American countries for Israel’s defense industry. The SIBAT Defense Ministry Foreign Defense Assistance and Defense Export Organization calls Brazil a target market and helps Israeli companies enter it.

“The new understandings between Israel and Brazil will enable Israeli companies to offer products that were previously forbidden,” a defense executive told Globes. “Whereas for years, business ties amounted to sales of specific unclassified technologies, Israeli industry can now offer a much broader range of products to Brazil, creating a real dimension of worthwhile contracts with this market. Brazil is one of the alternatives to the Turkish market, which used to be our biggest customer.”

At LAAD, IAI will unveil its new intelligence-gathering and observation vehicle. The vehicle, which can travel through difficult terrain, was jointly developed by IAI subsidiary Elta and Brazil’s Tac Motors.

Elta marketing manager Igo Licht said the Brazilian authorities could use the vehicle for a range of missions, including border defense.

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“The Brazilian market is growing because of pending sports events, including the World Cup 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games,” he said.

“These will require the authorities to invest heavily in homeland security, and Israel has goods to sell.”

Elbit Systems identified Brazil’s potential early on, acquiring Brazilian defense companies. At LAAD, it plans to display a range of products, including the Hermes 450 UAV.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems CEO Yedidia Yaari is heading a delegation. The company will display an example of its Tamir missile used in the Iron Dome antimissile system.

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