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By Arie Egozi

This was the U.S demand even before the Trump era and the downturn it had brought to the Washington-Moscow relations. Washington has objected to the further sale of any type of Israeli-made unmanned aerial system (UAV) to Russia. The unofficial embargo has been the focus of talks between Washington and Jerusalem during the Obama era but the Americans made it clear that their position was firm.

Israeli sources said that the fact that a Russian UAV entered the Israeli airspace from Syria last year gives Washington another reason to block any future sales of Israeli-made UAVs to Russia. This was prior to the recent deterioration of the relations between the U.S and Russia.

Immediately after the UAV was detected, two Patriot surface-to-air missiles were launched and missed. A third attempt to shoot it down with an air-air missile also failed.

According to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), the origin of the UAV has not been verified, but sources said that it is probably an Israeli-made Russian UAV operated by the Russian forces in Syria.

In recent months, Washington has vetoed any further sales of Israeli-made UAVs to Russia. Israel has tried to fight the veto as part of the improved relations with Russia. Washington says that the war in Syria may result in advanced technologies falling in the hands of ISIS.

Russian companies have recently contacted some Israeli manufacturers of UAVs in an attempt to reach some kind of a joint venture agreement, but after checking with the Israeli Ministry of Defense it became obvious that the Americans would be “very angry” if further sales would be made.

Some years ago, the Russians have purchased 10 Searcher 2 and 30 BirdEye-450 from Israel aerospace industries (IAI). The Israeli-made UAVs were partially assembled in a Russian plant. Some of the UAVs, mainly the Searcher 2 dubbed Forpost in Russia, have been used by the Russian forces in Syria.

Russian sources said that the combat experience has resulted in a demand for more advanced UAVs that are manufactured by some Israeli companies. The preliminary talks with the Israeli companies have been cut short after it was made clear that as a result of an American veto an export license will not be issued.

Arie Egozi
iHLS Editor-in-Chief