'Sale of Textron to UAE may expose secrets'

Defense official says Arabs' possible purchase of US defense firm could endanger Israeli deals.

cobra helicopter 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy IDF)
cobra helicopter 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy IDF)
Israel is concerned that the sale of the large American defense conglomerate Textron to a group of businessmen from the United Arab Emirates will jeopardize deals with Israeli defense industries. The Israeli defense establishment has strong ties with companies owned by Textron. Bell Helicopter for example, manufactures the Cobra attack helicopter and still assists the IAF in its upkeep and maintenance. In 2004, the IDF purchased several Dingo 2 armored cars for urban operations from Textron. This relationship culminated last year in the signing of a multi-year, $1 billion contract between Textron subsidiary AAI and Yavne-based Aeronautics, Ltd. to market the Orbiter Mini-UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) system jointly to US and select international customers. Under the terms of the agreement, AAI will lead marketing activities for the Orbiter Mini-UAV system in the US as well as other foreign military sales. News of the possible buyout broke last week as reports surfaced that a group of UAE businessmen was bidding to buy Textron for almost double the share price. "This is not simple for Israel," explained one defense official. "There are many projects that we develop together and if the company is bought, then a lot of classified information will be exposed." While Israel has nonofficial diplomatic ties with the UAE, officials said it was concerned technological specifications on some of its hardware would be revealed, and possibly even transferred to hostile elements. In related news, Israel Aerospace Industries inched a step closer to securing a multimillion dollar deal to sell an advanced early-warning missile radar system to South Korea. According to reports in the South Korean press, Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is leaning towards purchasing IAI's Super Green Pine radar. The other system under consideration is Thales Raytheon Systems' M3R. DAPA sources quoted in the media said that the agency favored the IAI radar, which works together with Israel's Arrow 2 missile defense system and has a claimed detection range of 500 kilometers, extendable to 800 km. One Super Green Pine radar could cover all of North Korea, the reports said, from a position well behind the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean peninsula.