The Iron Dome air-defense system. (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems) Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
Iron Dome

Heightened interest in Israeli military technology is raising the Jewish state’s profile in Europe.

By Pesach Benson, United with Israel

Romania is poised to become the first European country to purchase Israel’s Iron Dome system, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

Romanian Defense Minister Vasile Dincu would only confirm to Haaretz that his country is intent on upgrading defense coordination with Israel.

“We want to bring Israeli technological knowledge and innovation to Romania,” he said.

“Our military industry is old-fashioned. And I’ve discovered that Israel, unlike others, is a country that doesn’t just want to sell military equipment but also wants to obtain a license to manufacture it in Romania, and that’s very important to us. This will enable us to export the weapons systems to NATO.”

Dincu confirmed that Romania already has eight purchase agreements with Israeli defense companies and he expects the number to grow. He specifically mentioned that Elbit Systems has “a good chance” of winning tenders for projects related to drones, radar and electronic warfare.

Some of the current agreements, Dincu added, led to the construction of four factories in Romania which manufacture parts for drones, tank turrets and electronic equipment.

Dincu added that he would like to see Romania and Israel hold joint military maneuvers. Romania currently allows the Israeli Air Force to train in its skies.

He stressed that the increased defense ties with Israel will help Romania defend itself from its biggest threat, Russia. “Even if it’s not a direct threat,” he said. “We’re part of NATO’s collective defense and operate in this framework. We have to defend ourselves.”

In 2021, Israel sold $11.3 billion in defense exports, an all-time high. Defense Ministry officials attributed it to increased interest in Israeli military technology, and larger orders.

That number is expected be soon surpassed as Europe increases defense spending to counter Russian threats. Germany is interested in purchasing Israel’s advanced Arrow-3 ballistic missile defense system. If finalized, it would the system’s first sale.

Speaking at the recent Jerusalem Post Conference in New York, David Siegel, president of Friends of the European Leadership Network (ELNET), said, “By the end of 2022, we expect that more than half of Israel’s defense exports will go to Europe.”

ELNET is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening European-Israeli relations.

Israeli drones, electronic warfare and radar systems sell well, but Iron Dome and the Arrow-3 are the highest profile items.

One complication for potential sales of both Iron Dome and the Arrow-3 comes from the U.S.. As part of Washington’s assistance to fund the development and production of both systems, Israel and the U.S. agreed not to transfer the systems to any third party without the other’s agreement.

Much of Europe’s wave of spending will still go to American companies. But heightened interest in Israeli military technology is raising the Jewish state’s profile in Europe.

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