Israel will sell an advanced air defence system to the United Arab Emirates capable of defending the Gulf country against drone attacks, in a further sign of the growing alliance between the two countries.
The Reuters news agency reported that Israel had approved a request from the UAE for the Rafael-made SPYDER mobile interceptors, according to two sources.
A third source said that the UAE would be acquiring Israeli technology that would be able to prevent a repeat of the drone attacks that hit Abu Dhabi earlier this year.
“The Saudis are very interested in Israeli systems,” a senior manager at one Israeli defense company told Global Defense Corp on the condition of anonymity. “I’m sure there are ways to sell Israeli-made systems to Saudi Arabia even if some of the production is performed in [Saudi Arabia]. I know that the Saudis prefer some Israeli systems and this opportunity should not be missed.”
Ram Ben-Barak, the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee chairman, was asked about the deal on September 20, but declined to comment aside from saying that there was broad cooperation between the UAE and Israel.
The UAE has been targeted by missile and drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi rebels. The UAE is an active part of the Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, while Israel and the UAE normalised ties in 2020.
Details of the air defence deal are unclear, with the number of interceptors to be supplied by Israel, and whether they have already been shipped, unknown.
Sources told Reuters that some of the missiles and drones that hit the UAE escaped detection by flying at low altitude, thereby avoiding the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot interceptors.
The deal was said to have been reached this summer, around the time the United States and Israel were pushing Arab states to link their air defence systems to counter Iran.
The Israeli-made SPYDER system, on the other hand, can defend against low-altitude threats, including drones, cruise missiles and helicopters.
Interceptors are fitted to vehicles and used against short to long-range threats.
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