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(photo credit: AP [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak called on Russia to halt military sales to Iran and Syria on Tuesday during a meeting with the Russian chief of staff in Paris.
Barak met with Gen. Nikolai Makarov on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget. During their short meeting, Barak surveyed Israel's current security situation before the Russian general and elaborated on the way Israel viewed the outcome of the elections in Iran and Lebanon.
Barak explicitly asked Makarov to refrain from selling advanced weaponry to Iran and Syria, saying it would "endanger the entire region."
Israel is concerned Russia will sell Iran the S-300, one of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems in the world today with a reported ability to track up to 100 targets simultaneously while engaging up to 12. It reportedly has a range of about 200 kilometers and can hit targets at altitudes of 90,000 feet.
In addition, Israel recently asked Russia to stop a planned sale of advanced MiG-31 fighter jets to Syria, and as reported last month by The Jerusalem Post, Israel decided to expedite production of unmanned aerial vehicles for Russia after Moscow announced it would halt the sale.
Under the $50 million deal, signed in April, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will supply Russia with some of its second-tier UAVs, including the Bird-Eye 400 mini-UAV, the I-view MK150 tactical UAV and the Searcher Mk II medium-range UAV. This is the first Israeli sale of military platforms to Russia.
Barak was also scheduled to hold talks with top officials from Lockheed Martin, the US defense company developing the F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter jet. Defense officials said Tuesday that the Defense Ministry and the Pentagon were still in negotiations over an Israeli request to be allowed to install indigenous technology - such as an electronic-warfare system - in the plane.
Israel and Lockheed Martin hope to reach an agreement on the technology issue in the coming months, and top IDF officers recently said they were hopeful a deal would be secured by the end of the year.
Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin's executive vice president overseeing the F-35 program, said in a recent media interview that while Israeli demands were "very challenging for us," he expected the Defense Ministry to submit an official request to purchase the aircraft in the coming weeks.