Tel Aviv, Israel (UPI) Dec 13, 2010
Executives of Israel's defense industry, the most advanced in the Middle East, are reportedly talking to NATO-member Greece about a possible multimillion-dollar sale of advanced weaponry.
The negotiations follow the breakup of the Jewish state's strategic alliance with Turkey, Greece's longtime rival, and come amid a major geopolitical realignment in the region as Turkey and Iran draw closer.
The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday that an Israeli delegation, including senior Defense Ministry officials, was in Athens to discuss "a new military partnership in the Mediterranean."
The Post gave few details but said the systems under discussion "could include weapons systems" for the Greek air force's fleet of 120 Lockheed Martin F-16s of various models.
A Greek military official concerned with defense procurement who was in Israel on a weeklong trip earlier in December said he was involved in the purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles. Israel is a world leader in that field.
The state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, which manufactures UAVs, also specializes in upgrading F-16s, which the Greek air force uses extensively. IAI and other Israeli defense companies have developed world-class electronic systems for the F-16, as well as other U.S.-produced weapons platforms.
Israel's defense industries did lucrative business with Turkey's military, with an annual turnover of some $2.5 billion a year in recent years.
Greece is grappling with severe economic problems and is unlikely to generate the same level of sales as its archrival. But Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who boasts many Israeli business contacts, is committed to upgrading his country's armed forces and transforming them into the major bulwark of NATO in the Balkans and eastern Mediterranean in place of Muslim Turkey.
"One of the obstacles in the way of the deal is Greece's poor economy but officials said they were seeking creative ways for Greece to pay for the systems and enable the deal to materialize," The Jerusalem Post observed.
The deal has apparently been in the works since July when Papandreou visited Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reciprocated the following month, the first Israeli leader to visit Athens.
This exchange followed a secret meeting in Russia between Netanyahu and Papandreou some weeks earlier. Diplomatic sources say the Greek prime minister initiated the approach because he saw an opportunity for Athens to replace Ankara in Israel's strategic worldview.
The Greek move wasn't directly linked to the split between Israel and Turkey, ruled by the Islamist party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which had been worsening for some months.
The rupture culminated May 31 when Israeli naval commandos killed nine Turks aboard the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmra carrying relief aid to the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Israeli sources say the blossoming relationship with Greece has been evolving since the summer of 2008 when Papandreou permitted 100 Israeli F-15I and F-16I strike aircraft to use Greek airspace to practice long-range flights and in-flight refueling.
These were widely seen as an Israeli rehearsal for pre-emptive strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.
According to the sources, Papandreou allowed the Israelis to carry out mock attacks against powerful S-300PMU air-defense missile systems Athens bought from Russia in 2000.
At that time, the Israelis feared that Moscow was going to supply Iran with five S-300 batteries under an $800,000 contract signed in 2007, with others going to Syria. In the face of intense U.S. pressure, Moscow hasn't delivered these systems.
Israel's military and intelligence relationship with Ankara dates to 1949, when Turkey, a secular state, became the first Muslim country to recognize the infant Jewish state. In 1996 they signed a landmark military cooperation agreement. That resulted immediately in contracts worth $700 million to modernize Turkish military systems.
That allowed the Israeli air force to use Turkish airspace, bordering Iran, to practice long-range strikes that Israeli pilots cannot carry out at home because of Israel's small size.
With Turkey out the frame now, the Israelis are turning to other countries in Europe with which to coordinate joint exercises. Over the last year, Israel has conducted four exercises in Greece, most recently in October and November. These are being extended across the Balkans to Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Croatia.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
EU stops short of outright recognition of Palestinian state
Brussels (AFP) Dec 13, 2010
Europe on Monday reaffirmed its readiness to recognise a Palestinian state at an "appropriate" time, stopping short of outright recognition despite mounting pressure to break the Middle East impasse. Pressure has built on the European Union to flex muscle after Israel refused to extend a moratorium on settlements, with 26 former European leaders last week demanding sanctions, and Argentina a ... read more
Israel general drops missile defense bombshell|
First European Missile Successfully Carries Out Ballistic Intercept
Poland asked US about missile shield uses: WikiLeaks
Japan to deploy new missile interceptors: report
Taiwan trumpets cruise missile production
Western Military District Gets First Iskander Tactical Missile System
ATK Awarded Contract For USAF HARM Modification Program
Raytheon's SLAMRAAM Completes Second Test Firing from New Platform
Boeing Phantom Ray Takes A Ride On NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
Fire Scout Ready For Unrestricted Flights Off USS Halyburton
US drone strike kills four militants in Pakistan: officials
Critical Global Hawk Sensor Delivered To USAF
Arianespace Will Orbit Sicral 2 Milcomms Satellites
Codan Receives JITC Certification For 2110 HF Manpack
Northrop Grumman Bids for Marine Corps Common Aviation CnC
DSP Satellite System Celebrates 40 Years
DARPA Awards Contract To Produce Laser Enhanced Sniper Systems
EADS Conducts First Flight Of Armed Aerial Scout 72X TDA
Combined Strategies And Technologies Help IED Fight
Building Begins On Indian Navy's First P-8I Aircraft
Military weighs reusing damaged equipment
Russian Military To Receive 1,300 Types Of Weaponry By 2020
US Army Awards GD Contract For Stryker Combat-Vehicle Work
France, Germany, Poland call for deeper EU military ties
Berlusconi survives no-confidence votes
Russia's 'sexy spy' appears at Medvedev forum
Veteran US Diplomat Richard Holbrooke Dies
China: U.S. legislators are 'arrogant'
Navy test fires electromagnetic cannon
Joint High Power Solid State Laser Keeps Lasing And Lasing
Boeing Installing Beam Control System On HEL Laser Demonstrator
Maritime Laser System Shows Higher Lethality At Longer Ranges
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|