Terrorism spurs interest in Israeli tech

India and other countries turn to Israeli defense industries and consultants following Mumbai attack.

mumbai take cover 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
mumbai take cover 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Defense Ministry and Israeli security companies have received a growing number of requests for homeland security technology since the terror attacks in Mumbai last month, top defense officials said Thursday, leading to speculation that Israeli defense exports will increase dramatically in 2009. Since the attack, which killed over 170 people, including a number of Israelis, India and other countries have turned to Israeli defense industries and consultants. One example was a visit to Israel last week by a high-level delegation from the US state of Georgia to view a new evacuation platform that could be used to rescue hostages in an attack like that in Mumbai. Designated by the US Department of Homeland Security as a Qualified Anti-terrorism Technology, the external evacuation platform, manufactured by Escape Rescue Systems, provides fight and flight capabilities for emergencies in high-rise buildings. In a full five-cabin configuration, the system can deliver up to 25 SWAT personnel and rescue 150 people every eight minutes, according to the company. "The tragic events in Mumbai and the changed skyline of New York are reminders of the pride we have in our cities and of the necessity to prepare for another 9/11, a fire or a terrorist hostage-taking situation," said John Oxendine, insurance and safety fire commissioner of Georgia. "With more than 200 tall buildings in Atlanta, we need to consider revolutionary rescue and evacuation solutions, like Escape Rescue System," he said. India has reportedly decided to purchase four Israeli EL/M-2083 aerostat radar systems to help defend the country against a 9/11-type attack. According to reports in the Indian press, the radar, manufactured by Elta Systems of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), would be deployed in strategic areas to provide early warning against incoming enemy aircraft and missiles. The phased-array aerostat system is a simpler version of the Green Pine radar, made by IAI and used by the Arrow missile defense system. It is mounted on tethered blimps, which enables it to detect intrusions earlier than ground-based systems. Defense officials have said that the Mumbai attacks raised awareness around the world for the need to obtain advanced surveillance equipment and counter-terrorism capabilities. They added that it was possible that arms sales in 2009 would surpass the $4.1 billion in sales in 2008. "Countries are more aware of their vulnerabilities," one official said. "There is more interest today in Israeli products since we have loads of experience in combating terrorism." Officials said that India was specifically interested in procuring basic weaponry that could be used in counter-terror operations. It has already purchased Tavor assault rifles made by Israel Weapon Industries as well as night-vision goggles made by Israel Military Industries. "They are interested in getting more basic supplies for operations such as the one launched against [the] Mumbai attackers," the official said.