Israel Stocking up on Missiles, Munitions: $1.33B
On Oct 29/07, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] Israel’s formal request for a wide variety of missiles and ammunition. Previous orders have outfitted its air force for air-air and air-ground combat. While many of this order’s missiles are likely to find themselves aboard Israeli helicopters, this is not exclusively true, and the overall picture is one of rebuilding ammunition stocks for the ground forces and their supporting arms.
The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $1.329 billion. Specific items requested include:
2,000 Radio Frequency (RF) TOW 2A Missiles. Unlike past versions, the TOW2 RF uses encrypted radio signals for guidance – instead of a guidance wire trailing behind that can be cut by obstacles, and provides a useful trail for enemy infantry to follow when fired from the ground. The TOW 2A is an improved version of the original Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire-guided missile that’s designed for “bunker busting” attacks on fortifications, bunkers and urban structures. It can also defeat reactive armor if used against tanks et. al., and has a range of 3,750m.
14 RF TOW 2A Fly-to-buy Missiles. Think of them as a form of lot quality control, test-fired to assure the recipient that the rest work fine. But since you fire ‘em, you just bought ‘em.
1,000 AGM-114K3 HELLFIRE II Missiles. The ‘K’ version is the standard Hellfire II anti-armor missile, with a tandem warhead to defeat reactive armor and new features that include semi-active laser homing, a digital autopilot, target reacquisition after lost laser lock, and better resistance to laser countermeasures. Hellfires can be shot from helicopters, ground vehicles, or even tripods – but are usually employed from helicopters or UAVs. K3 is the latest version.
200 AGM-114L3 HELLFIRE II Longbow Missiles. Some of Israel’s AH-64 apache attack helicopters were bought as or have been modified to AH-64D Apache Longbows, with a millimeter-wave radar dome up top. Longbow missiles can home on that, as well as laser targeting. This means they can be fired even in fierce dust storms that might scatter laser light, and the radar seeker head makes them ‘fire and forget’ weapons once they’ve been assigned a target. If you aren’t careful about how you jam them, these mean little missiles may even lock on to your jammer and use it as a beacon instead. L3 is the latest version.
500 AGM-114M3 HELLFIRE II Missiles. The ‘M’ Hellfire IIs were originally designed for use against boats, where one needed blast and fragmentation more than the K’s armor-piercing capability. Of course, that’s also true for concrete or earth bunkers, caves, and lightly armored vehicles, which has made them popular. M3 is the latest version.
150,048 M433 40mm High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP) Cartridges. These are used in grenade launchers, from the M279 “bloop gun,” to the M203 that fits under M16/M4 rifles, to rapid fire Mk19 grenade machine guns, to Israel’s ultra-inventive “Cornershot” that lets soldiers see and shoot around corners!
8,000 M930 120mm Illuminating Cartridges. Mortar rounds that pack a small parachute, and are used to light up a wide area for a short period of time. It was developed from an Israeli weapon, and changes consisted of improving the reliability of the Israeli XM930 cartridge, bringing up the design to current U.S. production practices, and developing another cartridge (M983) with a candle that illuminates in the infrared spectrum.
30,003 M889A1 81mm HE Cartridges with M935 Fuzes. 81mm Mortar rounds packed with high explosives.
100,000 M107 155mm HE Projectiles. Artillery rounds.
5,000 M141 83mm Bunker Defeat Munitions. These are also known as SMAW-D, and have fuzes that delay detonation if it hits a soft target. The SMAW itself was adapted from an Israeli weapon called the B-300 – but buying them from the US allows Israel to use military aid dollars.
100 PATRIOT Guidance Enhanced Missile Plus (GEM+) The surface-to-air missiles are enhanced versions of the Patriot PAC-2, a larger and heavier missile that uses a proximity fragmentation warhead rather than the PAC-3’s hit-to-kill approach. Patriot GEM+ systems refurbished, modernized, and integrated with more advanced radars et. al. per the PAC-3 system, but still use the PAC-2 missile.
The request also includes non-MDE cartridges, projectiles, charges, fuzes, containers, spare and repair parts, test and tool sets, personnel training and equipment, publications, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, Quality Assurance Team support services, and other related elements of logistics support.
Israel already uses these items, and will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles and munitions into its armed forces. No U.S. Government or contractor representatives will be needed, and the principal contractors will be:
- Hellfire Systems Limited Liability Company of Orlando, Florida (a Lockheed Martin/Raytheon joint venture)
- Raytheon Company of Tucson, Arizona
- Raytheon Company of Tewksbury, Massachusetts.