The international business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that over the next five years countries in the Middle East will buy as much as USD 100 billion a year worth of military equipment. The fear of Iran and regional rivalries heat up.
Most of the spending will be made by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. Major items on Israel’s shopping list include three squadrons of F-35 fighter jets and two new missile ships.
Iraq, Egypt and many of the smaller states in the Gulf are buying new transport aircraft, helicopters and boats, as well as law enforcement equipment to control their increasingly restive populations.
The Saudi Arabian and UAE air forces have both received large numbers of new fighters and airborne radar aircraft, as their ballistic missile defense systems are getting major new upgrades and equipment.
Patriot Missile Launch (Boeing)Israel’s own air and missile defense systems are also getting upgrades, as the Air Force last week completed work on developing a new battalion that will operate the Israeli built “Iron Dome” short-range missile defense system. In tests last month, the system successfully intercepted several incoming short range rockets such as those that have been fired at Israel from Gaza and South Lebanon, and defense company Rafael Defense Systems announced that it would be operational by the middle of next year.
«We cannot promise 100 percent hermetic defense», said Col. Zvika, commander of the IAF’s Northern Air Defense Division. «But what we can promise is that after years of rocket fire against Gaza-belt communities, there will now be an effective solution».
Arrow defense system graphic (Rand Corporation)Israel already operates the Arrow and Patriot anti-ballistic missile system and has signaled interest in the highly advanced US built SM-3 as it seeks to deploy a layered air defense system that will protect Israel from all incoming missiles – from short range homemade Kassam’s to Iranian nuclear-tipped ICBM’s. A tripartite system of SM-3, Arrow-2, and Patriot missiles would provide adequate cover for the three-tiered shield required by Israel, in addition to close-in protection provided by the Iron Dome,