The figures on defense sales were released ahead of the Paris Air Show,
regarded by Israel as a key marketing forum. Fifteen companies, several of
them for the first time, have registered to participate in the Paris
Officials said Israel was bracing for a difficult 2011 amid the cut in
defense budgets by NATO members. They said Israeli companies were seeking
new markets, particularly in South America and East Asia.
"We recognize the challenges but are working hard to maintain the level
we are currently at and even to increase it," Shmaya Avieli, head of the
ministry's export agency, said.
The Defense Ministry has sought to expand opportunities for foreign
sales. The export agency, known by its Hebrew acronym, Sibat, has
established a division to help small defense contractors break into the
Officials said Israel would focus in Paris on the country's new rocket
defense capabilities. They cited the Iron Dome, developed by the state-owned
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and designed to intercept short- and
"This has potential in future exports," Defense Ministry
director-general Udi Shani said.
Over the last five years, Israel has sought to coordinate defense
exports with the United States, which provides about $3 billion in military
aid to the Jewish state. In mid-June, Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited
China and held meetings that officials said focused on arms proliferation in
the Middle East rather than defense trade.
Washington has banned Israel from defense and most security exports to
Beijing. Officials said Barak raised the prospect of counter-insurgency
cooperation with China.
"The Israeli side values the development of military exchanges and
cooperation with China and wishes to work together with our Chinese friends
to raise military-to-military relations to a new level," Barak was quoted as
saying by the Chinese Defense Ministry on June 13.