TO SEE ACTION IN IRAQ
by Jim Krane, AP Technology Writer
[With thanks to http://www.mideastweb.org/mewnews1.htm]
The Bush administration has made clear it wants Israel to stay out of an Iraq war so as not to provoke Arab and Muslim countries assisting the United States. But that won't stop Israel's weaponry and arms technology from being used against Iraqis.
After decades of U.S. military aid and defense cooperation, the U.S. military is permeated by technology developed in Israel -- from the Army's Hunter drones to the targeting systems on the U.S. Marines' Harrier jets to the fuel tanks on its F-15 fighters.
"We'll be shooting down some (French) Mirage 3s, I think, if the Iraqis ever come up. We may shoot them with an Israeli missile, from a U.S. warplane," said Joel Johnson, spokesman for the Aerospace Industries Association, a Washington-based industry lobby.
It would be hard to find a modern military that manages without technology developed by the Jewish state's feisty industry. Israel emerged last year as the world's No. 3 arms and military services exporter -- ahead of even Russia's massive arms industry, according to Jane's Defense Weekly.
That Israel's weaponry has found a place inside the mighty U.S. military points to the country's engineering prowess -- and its status as a favorite ally, said Yiftah Shapir of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.
The U.S.-Israeli friendship "helps to a certain extent, but when it comes to commercial competition, these sentiments are put aside," Shapir said. "These are highly advanced and the price is highly competitive."
Iraqi forces might be on the receiving end of Israeli technology in several scenarios.
A B-52 bomber could fire Popeye air-to-surface missiles -- dubbed AGM-142 by the U.S. Air Force -- at ground targets. The precision-guided Popeyes were designed by Rafael, a company partially owned by the government of Israel.
Israeli-designed Hunter unmanned aerial vehicles are in the service of the U.S. Army, and its cousin, the Pioneer, is being used by the U.S. Marines to scout Iraqi defenses. Both originated in the design labs of Israel Aircraft Industries, the country's largest private company.
The Hunter dropped anti-tank munitions in recent U.S. tests, and could be used alongside the Air Force's armed Predator missile-firing drone in a ground attack role.
Some of the Army's Bradley fighting vehicles are guided by on-board computers supplied by a subsidiary of Israel's Elbit Systems, Shapir said. U.S. troops riding in the Bradleys might also be protected by armor from Rafael, said Lova Drori, Rafael's director of international marketing.
Rafael is also the designer of the Litening Targeting Pods used to fire precision weapons from the Marines' AV-8B Harrier jet, as well as F-15s and F-16s flown by the Air Force Reserves and Army National Guard, Drori said.
Israel also makes or designs multiple rocket launchers, mortars, laser target designators for the Army's Comanche helicopter and other components, Shapir said.
Much of the equipment is manufactured in the United States by subsidiaries of Israeli companies, or through joint ventures with U.S. weapons manufacturers.
According to Jane's, Israel made more than $3.5 billion in arms sales last year, roughly equal to Russia's massive arms export industry. Only the United States and Britain sold more, Jane's reported.
Other sources don't factor in Israel's exports of services -- such as upgrades to tanks and fighter aircraft -- and rank Israel as a smaller exporter. London's International Institute for Strategic Studies called Israel the world's No. 5 arms exporter last year.
Besides the United States, Israel's top customers include Turkey, India, Brazil, Canada and Germany. China used to be a major client, but Israel backed off after protests from the United States, Shapir and others said.