• IAI's Harop loitering weapon system. Credit: IAI
    IAI's Harop loitering weapon system. Credit: IAI

While the execution of the cooperation agreement between Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) and NIOA’s Australian Missile Corporation (AMC) reportedly remains on hold, the Israeli company is nonetheless expanding its local operation.

According to Oded Sheshinski, managing director of IAI Australia, the recent general elections and revisions in the Australian defence budget have ‘delayed the implementation of the cooperation agreement’ signed with the AMC in June 2021.

According to the agreement, Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) confirmed its interest in cooperating with NIOA’s AMC. In a statement after the signing of the agreement, both companies said they believe that their capabilities are ‘synergetic’ and the joint effort will provide ‘leading innovative local solutions’ for the benefit of Australian industries.

“As a Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance (GWEO) enterprise panel partner, the AMC is working with Government, Defence, and industry as the enterprise transitions to work program delivery. The AMC collaboration model is well placed to support Defence in developing its plans,” Lee Goddard, CEO of the Australian Missile Corporation, said.

“Since May last year we have linked up with more than 320 leading defence, research and aerospace partners who are at the cutting edge of world-leading systems. Our focus and commitment remain clear: to work collaboratively with our partners and Defence to develop this critical sovereign defence capability.

“Our next steps will involve working with Defence and the GWEO Strategic Partners, Raytheon Australia and Lockheed Martin Australia, on a roadmap that meets the GWEO capability elements.”

In the meantime, IAI is offering the Commonwealth what it calls a ‘very advanced autonomous maritime system’ that has been developed in recent years. Although the technologies used in this system are classified, sources told ADM that it will be "a real breakthrough" in autonomous maritime systems.

Sheshinski told ADM that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has creating a ‘new thinking’ about Australian defence needs.

"We are now in the midst of an effort to establish local companies with Australian partners in almost every technology that IAI has developed. We made a decision to transfer technologies and go for local production of our systems if they serve Australian defence needs,” Sheshinski said.

Sheshinski confirmed that an offer of an ‘advanced autonomous maritime system’ was made to Defence but refused to give any details: "This is still classified."

He added that in the wake of the war in Ukraine, Australia has had "a different look" at the need for proven air defence systems.
"We are offering operational, combat proven systems like the Barak MX and the reactions are promising," Sheshinski said.

IAI’s Barak-MX is a modular air defence system and is designed to address missile and aircraft threats. It operates both in marine platforms and land, and belongs to the Barak missile family and the company says it is capable of ‘simple integration’ with any existing legacy or sensors.

IAI says that all Barak MX Land deployable components (BMC, launchers with interceptors and Radars) can be operated from permanent infrastructure or can be truck mounted and deployed to temporal operational sites.

In 2017, Defence decided not to renew the lease on IAI's Heron UAV. According to Sheshkinski, the company is now offering the RAAF a ‘number of advanced UAVs’. Finally, Sheshinski revealed that IAI is also offering its systems that are aimed at protecting military bases from UAVs and armed drone attacks, having identified the need for such systems following armed UAV attacks by the Houthi rebels in Yemen on targets in Saudi Arabia.

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