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Friday, June 17, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israeli arms sales hit record $7.2 billion in 2010

TEL AVIV — Israel has reported setting a defense export record in 2010.


The Defense Ministry said Israeli defense exports set a record $7.2 billion in 2010. The ministry said the figure marked an increase over the $6.9 billion in foreign weapons sales in 2009.

On June 15, the Defense Ministry said Israeli contractors sold $9.6 billion in 2010, more than 75 percent of which stemmed from exports. The ministry said the Israeli military bought $2.4 billion from the companies.

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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 exhibition.

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 export market.

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 medium-range rockets.

"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.

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