Mexico needs surveillance, and many of its key surveillance assets are coming from Israel. Its E-2C Hawkeye AWACS aircraft were bought used from the Israeli Air Force. A recent $25 million purchase from Elbit Systems added cheaper long-endurance aerial surveillance via Hermes 450 mid-tier UAVs, as well as hand-launched Skylark-I mini-UAVs for troops on the ground. Now Aeronautics Defense Systems of Yavneh, Israel will be selling Mexico’s federal police over $22 million worth of its Skystar 300 surveillance aerostats and small Orbiter UAVs.
These UAVs and aerostats will be needed. Mexico doesn’t make the headlines very often, but the country faces what counter-terrorist analyst John Robb has called a growing “open source insurgency” of narco-traffickers and some leftist groups. The violence associated with “The Cartel War” has reportedly claimed almost 8,000 lives in the last 2 years. It is starting to create ripples of concern in many American Hispanic communities, who still have considerable family ties in Mexico. It also appears to be prodding the Mexican government into belated force improvements, as the scope of the growing conflict becomes clearer.