Defense experts are now ranking Israel as an arms export heavyweight with growing sales to Turkey and India topping the scale.
According to an Israeli arms expert, the Jewish state will remain one of the world’s top five defense exporters for 2003, reported AP. The state was ranked third for 2002 by Defense News in June. The United States and Russia held the top two positions.
According to the Director of Tel Aviv's BESA Center for Strategic Studies Efraim Inbar, the world’s current top five defense exporters are the United States, Russia, France, Britain and Israel, but not necessarily in that order. Government figures show that Israel’s defense export contracts totaled $4.1 billion in 2002, up from $2.6 billion from the previous year.
Israel and India have long established tight cooperation between their defense industries. According to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Jewish state is reported to have already furnished India with the Greenpine radar and a Harpy unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). In September, India agreed to purchase four Israeli Phalcon airborne early warning systems, worth an estimated one billion dollars.
Over the past three years, the Turkish military chose Israeli firms to upgrade its tanks and fighter jets. Ankara tied a long-delayed water deal with Israel to a big arms purchase, providing for the sale of Israeli-made tanks and air force technology valued at $700 million.
In a more controversial move, Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) has decided to open a branch in Jakarta, Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. The division is the first area office opened by and Israeli defense company in an Islamic state, reported Yediot Ahronot. — (menareport.com)
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