The US Air Force has awarded a $15.6 million contract to an Israeli company for equipment to counter ISIS drones. But it is not clear what exactly the technology is.
The U.S. Air Force awarded a mysterious contract to an Israeli firm for equipment to counter small drones like the ones used by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
But service officials will not disclose the type of system and whether it uses electronic jamming, conventional missiles, a combination of both, or some other method to down enemy drones.
Here’s what we know: The Air Force awardedELTA North America Inc. — a U.S. subsidiary of Israeli Aerospace Industries — a $15.6 million contract for “counter-unmanned aerial systems.” The contract announcement specifically references “21 Man Portable Aerial Defense System kits,” which will be delivered by July 28.
Man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS, are shoulder-fired missiles traditionally used to shoot down aircraft. So was that what was purchased? Not so fast.
The system was purchased by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. The organization at the base oversees communications and electronics purchases, which would hint the deal is likely for some type of jamming system that can take down the small drones without firing a shot.
It just so happens IAI has been at international trade shows touting such a system called “Drone Guard.” The system’s radars can detect, track and jam small drones. Last year, the company said it had sold Drone Guard to “several customers for critical asset and personnel protection,” but did not disclose the buyers.
We know the Defense Department considers the system purchased this week so important it gave ELTA a no-bid contract. Pentagon officials consider the buy a “Joint Emergent Operational Need,” meaning it is a response to a problem on the battlefield that requires fast-tracking through the acquisition system.
The US-Israeli relationship is built not only on shared values but also mutual benefit. While the Israel haters love pointing out the amount of military aid the US provides Israel (which is by no means the lion’s share), they conveniently “forget” the benefits provided to the US by Israel – military and otherwise. This report is just one example.