Defense officials aim high at Paris show

Hope for $800m. in contracts; Israel Aerospace Industries to unveil Heron 2.

heron 298.88 (photo credit: IAI)
heron 298.88
(photo credit: IAI)
Israeli defense industry exporters hope to sign $800 million in new contracts at next week's Paris Air Show. Israel is one of the five leading countries in defense exports, David Arzi, chairman of the Israel Export Institute, said Sunday at a press conference in Tel Aviv. In 2006, Israeli companies signed deals valued at $5 billion, more than 10 percent of worldwide defense exports, he said. Israeli exports in homeland-security technology will grow by 20% and reach $1.2b. by the end of the year, Arzi predicted. In 2006, Israeli companies sold $1b. worth of homeland-security products, he said. Thirty Israeli companies have entered the homeland-security field over the past year, Arzi said, bringing the number of Israeli companies involved in homeland security to more than 350. "Homeland security is today the top priority around the world," he said. "Countries today are interested in securing airports, stadiums, combating terrorism and securing transportation lines." Israeli companies will be featured prominently at the Paris Air Show, which opens next Monday. They will display their wares at the show's sixth largest pavilion, more than 5,000 cubic meters of space. Two-thousand companies from 42 countries will present their products at the show. Eleven Israeli companies, including Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Rafael Armament Development Authority, Aeronautics and Tadiran Communications, will be there. For the first time, Libya, Tunis and Australia will participate. The Israeli pavilion will feature a variety of products with a focus on unmanned aerial vehicles. Two UAVs will be unveiled at the show - the Hermes 900, developed by Elbit Systems, and the Heron 2, developed by IAI. According to Aviation Week, the Heron 2 weighs 1.8 tons and has a 37-meter wingspan, the same as a Boeing 737. The Hermes 900 is a larger version of Elbit's Hermes 450. According to foreign news reports, the IAF uses it to bomb targets in the Gaza Strip. Last week, Elbit announced a $110 million deal to supply the UAV to Britain's Ministry of Defense. Rafael will feature its Spike ER missile. It is competing against Lockheed Martin's Hellfire missile for a contract to supply the French and Spanish air forces. The Spike ER is an antitank missile with a range of eight kilometers. It is designed for installation on helicopters, tanks and land-based platforms. Rafael hopes to close a $239m. deal with the Indian Air Force for the sale of the Spyder Air Defense System. Equipped with Python-5 and Derby missiles, the Spyder provides capability to down enemy aircraft, helicopters, UAVs, drones and precision-guided munitions.