In 1950, just two years after the formation of Israel, the country’s first commercial delegation went to South America. The country was in desperate need of trading partners. Unlike its Arab neighbors, Israel lacked natural resources for funding its economy; it had no oil or minerals. Though the delegation held some meetings, they were not taken seriously. The Israelis were trying to sell oranges, fake teeth, and kerosene stovetops. The products were of little use for countries like Argentina which grew oranges and was connected with the electrical grid.
In seven decades, Israel has emerged as a high-tech superpower and one of the leading exporters of weapons in the world with annual arms sales worth around $6.5 billion. Since 1985, Israel has been the largest exporter of drones, catering for 60 percent of the global market, followed by the US which has a market share of 25 percent. It has customers from different parts of the world like Brazil, South Korea, Russia, Germany, France, and Australia. Here are some major reasons why Israel is considered a major military power in the world-
Robotic Border Patrols
The Guardium is a new group of robotic weapons called Unmanned Group Vehicles or UGVs. Israel is the world’s first country to utilize the robots instead of soldiers on missions such as border patrols. Guardium UGVs have been deployed along the country’s border with Syria in the north and Gaza Strip in the south.
Based on a vehicle that resembles a Tomcar dune-buggy, the Guardium is well-equipped with several weapons, cameras, and sensors. The vehicle can be driven by a soldier who is sitting in a command far away or receive a pre-designated route for its patrol. So, the vehicle is completely autonomous.
The greater use of robots by Israel’s defense forces is part of the country’s long-term strategy to reduce the risks soldiers are exposed to whenever possible. Moreover, soldiers need water, breaks, and food. In contrast, a Guardium requires just a tank full of gas. Other UGVs that are commonly used by IDF include Segev, based on a Ford F-530 pickup truck.
To deal with terrorists who make use of tunnels to get into Israel from areas like Gaza Strip, Israel is also dependent on UGVs such as robotic snakes to slide within enemy headquarters and underground passageways.
The robots will then map out the structures, giving soldiers an accurate picture of a battle area before the place is stormed. The same strategy is being done at sea. Israeli defense contractor Rafael has developed an unmanned patrol ship known as Protector which is being utilized by Israel for protecting strategic ports and patrol the Mediterranean coastline.
Mini Spy Satellites
Israel launched its first spy satellite into space in 1988and became a member of a club of just eight nations that have satellite-launching capabilities. From the outset, there were many who had doubts about whether Israel had the capability to develop, build, and launch its own satellite. But in a little over three decades, it has emerged as a satellite superpower and now operates eight different spy satellites in space.
This is a major capability if you consider the threats that Israel faces from neighbors like Iran, which it still suspects of planning to build a nuclear weapon in the future. Israel hasn’t built big satellites. Rather, it designs ‘’mini satellites’’, that weight 300 kg(661 pounds) as compared to the 25-ton satellites built by the US.
The country’s spy satellites are of two types. Most of the country’s satellites are equipped with high-resolution cameras such as Ofek-9, which was launched in 2010, that can detect objects that are as minute as 50 centimeters (20 inches) from a long distance.
The other category of satellites is called the TecSar. The satellites can capture a synthetic aperture sensor, which is basically a radar system that can create high-resolution images that have the same quality as a regular camera.
This technology offers Israel a tremendous advantage. A camera cannot see through either cloud or fogs. But radars are effective in all weather conditions and can see through even camouflage nets. So, Israel can track its enemies and acquire intelligence on them at all times of the day and also through clouds, rain, and fog.
The Arrow anti-missile program
In the year 2000, the Israeli air force received the first operational Arrow missile battery, making the Jewish nation the first country ever to have an operational system that can shoot down incoming enemy missiles. The idea for creating the Arrow was born in mid-190s after the American President Ronald Reagan came up with his Star Wars plan and asked the country’s allies to partner in developing protecting systems that could counter Soviet nuclear missiles.
The Arrow was a groundbreaking idea. Because of the small size of Israel, all ballistic missiles that are deployed in the region by Syria, Iran, and Iran can be an existential threat. According to developers, Israel required a system that could shoot down enemy missiles over neighboring countries and provide complete invasion.
The program had undergone many trials and tribulations but received huge funding following the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, when Saddam Hussein fired 39 Scud missiles within Israel, bringing the country to a standstill and forcing millions of its citizens to get inside bomb shelters wearing gas masks.
The Arrow was actually the beginning. At present, Israel has the Arrow, which was partially funded by the US for intercepting long-range ballistic missiles, David’s Sling for intercepting rockets of medium-range and cruise missiles apart from the time-tested Iron Dome, which has successfully intercepted numerous Katyusha rockets fired from the Gaza Strip in recent times. Israel is the only nation in the world to use defense systems during wars. These systems have done more than just merely saving lives. They also provide Israel’s leadership ‘’ diplomatic maneuverability’’, the scope to think and come up with strategies before retaliating against rocket attacks. Though countries have invested in missile defense, no one has been able to create a multi-tier architecture in the way Israel has.
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