07 June 2013

Israel is largest exporter of UAVs

A report produced by U.S. consulting firm Frost & Sullivan determined earlier this year that Israel is now the largest exporter of Drones / unmanned aerial systems, surmounting aerospace giants in the United States. The report said that from 2005 to 2012, Israel exported about $4.6 billion worth of systems, including aircraft, payloads, operating systems and command and control caravans. U.S. overseas sales for the same time period were between $2 and $3 billion, the report said.

Pictured IDF Woman launching UAV
 Experts say Israel's long record of using drones in the region has turned it into a dominant force in the industry.

"The Israeli companies are very good and very advanced and very smart at making systems that function in a tactical environment because they've been at war constantly," said Michael Blades, an industry analyst who wrote the Frost & Sullivan report. "It came out of necessity, but they got really good at it."
Israel first made widespread use of drones during the 1982 Lebanon war, after developing the technology after failures in the 1973 Mideast war. During that conflict, the Israeli air force suffered major losses, and defense officials sought a solution that would allow them to identify anti-aircraft missile batteries before sending in fighter planes. Drones that could paint a picture of the battlefield in real time were created to meet that challenge.

Since then, Israeli companies, such as Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit Systems and Aeronautics Defense Systems, have begun producing drones, selling them at first to Israel's military, then branching out worldwide. Israeli drones have flown in conflict zones around the world, from Afghanistan to Mali. Britain and Brazil are among the biggest clients.

"We exist because of the international market," said Shmuel Falik, who markets drones for state-owned IAI. "We're too big for Israel, to our delight." IAI, considered the leading Israeli unmanned aerial system exporter by Frost & Sullivan, sells drones to 49 customers worldwide and says 80 percent of its UAV products are destined for foreign markets. 

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