Russia-Ukraine War: Israeli-made weapons are heading to Ukraine

Netherlands and Germany will be sending Ukraine an anti-tank weapons system manufactured by a subsidiary of Israel's state-owned Rafael

 A tank drives along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine following the recognition of their independence, in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 22, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)
A tank drives along a street after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of Russian troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine following the recognition of their independence, in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 22, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)

As NATO member states announce that they are shipping modern weapons to Ukraine, Israeli-made weapons are also on their way, even as Jerusalem walks a diplomatic tightrope following Russia’s invasion of the European nation.

What is the Panzerfaust 3 anti-tank weapon system?

On Sunday evening, the Netherlands announced that it would send 50 Panzerfaust 3 anti-tank weapon systems with 400 rockets and 200 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. Amsterdam will also supply 100 sniper rifles and 3,000 additional munitions.

The Army Recognition website said that all the military equipment and weapons will be transported to an Eastern European country by American C-17 transport aircraft, which departed from Eindhoven airbase and once on the ground, will be transported by road to Ukraine.

Read more on the Russia-Ukraine War:

The Panzerfaust 3 is a man-portable rocket-propelled grenade that can penetrate 900 mm. (35 inches) of steel armor or 700 mm. of explosive reactive armor and destroy tanks such as the Soviet T-72 and T-80.

Manufactured by Germany’s Dynamit Nobel Defense, a subsidiary of Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense System, the Panzerfaust 3-IT anti-tank weapon is expected to arrive in Ukraine to replenish and boost the stockpiles of weapons able to destroy Russian armor.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' Seabreaker precision missile (credit: RAFAEL ADVANCED DEFENSE SYSTEMS)Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' Seabreaker precision missile (credit: RAFAEL ADVANCED DEFENSE SYSTEMS)

A disposable anti-tank weapon, the Panzerfaust has an effective combat range of 300 meters (984 feet) against moving targets and up to 600 meters against static targets.

Operated by a single soldier, it can be used against tanks, armored vehicles, reinforced emplacements and light bunkers. Stationary aircraft can also be struck with it.

Germans changing track

While Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel’s Defense Ministry had no comment, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Saturday that he had authorized the Netherlands to send Ukraine the military equipment.

Germany did not need to ask for Israel’s approval to transfer the weapons because the plant in Burbach was only acquired by Rafael in 2004, and Berlin had been financing the development of the weapon since it was first introduced in 1973.

In a change of a longstanding policy, the German government said on Saturday, “The Russian invasion of Ukraine marks a turning point. It threatens our entire post-war order. In this situation, it is our duty to do our utmost to support Ukraine in defending itself against Vladimir Putin’s invading army. Germany stands closely by Ukraine’s side.”

SUBJECT TO rising criticism, the German government was forced to abandon its practice of not permitting the transfer of lethal weapons to conflict zones.

With the policy shift, Germany will send 1,000 anti-tank weapons as well as 500 US-made Stinger anti-aircraft defense systems to Ukraine. The Stinger man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD) is able to destroy low-level flying targets such as helicopters, UAVs, aircraft and cruise missiles at a range of up to 4,800 meters (approximately three miles).

Israel has been trying to strike a balance between Russia and Ukraine, and on Sunday night Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is said to have declined to sell weapons after he was asked by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to KAN public broadcasting, when Zelensky asked for military assistance, Bennett responded with “diplomatic politeness.”

Jerusalem has in the past stopped the United States from selling Ukraine the Iron Dome missile-defense system in an attempt to preserve its close ties with Russia, which is a key player in Syria where the IDF is carrying out airstrikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

The Crimean invasion-driven arms race

Israel has sold billions of dollars worth of weapons systems to Eastern European countries fearing Russian aggression since it annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. In 2021, Israel’s defense exports reached $8.3 billion, with 30%t going to Europe.

The sales included missiles, rockets, air defense systems, communications, drones, intelligence systems, radar and early warning systems, ammunition and armament, manned aircraft, avionics, observation and electro-optics.

Rafael has also sold the SPIKE 5th generation, precise electro-optical missile to 18 European Union and NATO members, who can transfer the weapon to Ukraine if given the green light from Jerusalem.

 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends a Security Cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, February 28, 2022. (credit: HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/REUTERS) German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends a Security Cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, February 28, 2022. (credit: HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/REUTERS)

The missile is capable of penetrating 39 inches of armor, and can be operated in either a direct attack or mid-course navigation based on target coordinates only. These modes enable the defeat of long-range hidden targets with pinpoint precision, damage assessment, and the obtaining of real-time intelligence.

With non-line-of-sight capabilities, it has a range of up to 32 km. (20 miles) and can be fired from vehicles, helicopters, ships and ground launchers. It has advanced electro-optic seekers that include the capabilities of a smart target tracker with artificial intelligence features, increasing its lethality.

Designed against new modern targets with a low signature and time-sensitive characteristics, the missile also includes new third-party target allocation (networked-enabled) enhancement with an embedded inertial measurement unit assembly that allows the missiles to be fired to grid target coordinates including advanced armor and protection systems, making it one of the only missiles in the world with this capability.