Why turning to Israeli armaments represents a double-edged decision for European countries?

In recent years, the Israeli defense industry has grown very rapidly on the international scene, and the year 2022 saw Elbit, Rafael and other IMIs record growth of more than 30% in export sales to reach a production volume of almost $12 billion, almost 5 times higher than it was just 10 years ago. It is true that Israeli equipment has something to seduce, sometimes offering impressive performance such as the SPIKE-ER anti-tank missile capable of hitting targets over 50 km away or the Iron Dome anti-aircraft protection system, formidable innovations like the Harpy wandering ammunition or the hard-kill Trophy and Iron Fist active defense systems, even almost exclusive abilities, like the Arrow 3 exo-atmospheric anti-ballistic missile without any equivalent in Europe. What's more, Israeli manufacturers often offer very attractive prices and financial and industrial conditions that are just as attractive.

It is not surprising, under these conditions, that in recent years, Spike missiles, Trophy hard-kill systems, Atmos self-propelled guns, PULS rocket-launching systems or even Spyder, David Sling or Barak anti-aircraft systems -8, have carved out the lion's share in international competitions, including in Europe. However, in the specific case of European countries, turning to Israeli systems, however attractive they may be, can prove to be a double-edged sword in the face of Russia. Indeed, Jerusalem has strictly and systematically opposed the delivery to Ukraine of military equipment of Israeli invoice or design, which has sometimes constituted a real obstacle to European support for Kyiv.

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Denmark has turned to the ATMOS system to replace the Caesars offered to Ukraine. But Copenhagen will not be able to transfer all or part of these systems to Kyiv if the conflict were to last. Perhaps this is the objective of this arbitration?

Thus, today, the Spike anti-tank missile, designed by Rafael and marketed in Europe through the EuroSpike GmBH joint venture bringing together the Germans Diehl (40%), Rheinmetall (40%) and the Israeli Rafael (20%), equips no less than 20 NATO armed forces, including some of the largest such as Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada or Great Britain, as well as all land forces Eastern European and Baltic countries. Not only is the missile ubiquitous in Europe, but very often it represents the only medium and long range anti-tank capability available to these armies. After the start of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, many European countries asked Rafael and Eurospike for permission to transfer all or part of their stock of Spike systems to Ukraine, and all were firmly refused. In fact, the Europeans limited themselves to transferring short-range anti-tank systems like the NLAW or the Panzerfaust, or old-generation missiles like the Milan 2, with only the American Javelin being authorized to be transferred to meet Ukrainian needs. Since then, Jerusalem's position has not changed in this matter, but that has not prevented several European countries from turning to its defense industry to modernize their forces.


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