Citing satellite image, analysts say UAE deploys Israeli-made air defense system

Joint Israeli-Indian Barak-8 launchers and Elta radar seen south of Abu Dhabi, following wave of missile and drone attacks by Iran-backed Houthis

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Two Barak 8 missile launchers and an Elta radar system are seen south of Abu-Dhabi, UAE, in a satellite image taken in September 2022. (Screenshot: Google Earth)
Two Barak 8 missile launchers and an Elta radar system are seen south of Abu-Dhabi, UAE, in a satellite image taken in September 2022. (Screenshot: Google Earth)

A satellite image taken in September reveals that the United Arab Emirates has deployed an Israeli-made air defense system to protect the country from Iranian missiles and drones, according to a weekend report.

The Tactical Report news site published an analysis of satellite images, which it said show two Barak 8 launchers and an Elta ELM 2084 radar near the al-Dhafra airbase, south of the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this month, the Breaking Defense site first published that the UAE had deployed the system, citing defense sources.

The Barak 8 system is designed to protect against a range of threats, including ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and enemy aircraft.

In July, Israel shot down a drone launched by the Lebanese Iran-backed Hezbollah at an offshore gas installation, marking the first operational drone interception by Barak 8 missiles from a navy ship.

Barak 8 was co-developed by the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel’s Defense Ministry, India’s Defense Research and Development Organization, the navies of both countries, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, IAI’s Elta Group, and other local industries in India.

In addition to the UAE, the Barak 8 system is already in use by Israel, India and Azerbaijan.

In recent weeks, Ukraine has also shown interest in procuring the Israeli-made system, among others such as the Iron Dome, to counter Russia’s use of Iranian drones and missiles amid its invasion.

Israel has so far refused to supply such systems to Ukraine, apparently due to its concern over its need to maintain operating freedom in Syria’s skies, which are controlled by Russia.

Early this year, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched several missile and drone attacks targeting the UAE, leading to reports that Israel was considering selling defensive systems to the Emiratis.

In September, a source told the Reuters news agency that Abu Dhabi had bought Israeli systems that can counter drone attacks that are a threat to the UAE.

According to Israeli Defense Ministry figures published earlier this year, the UAE and Bahrain account for 7% of the total arms purchases from Israel in 2021.

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led military coalition that supports Yemen’s government against the Houthis. In 2019, the UAE withdrew its troops from Yemen, but it remains an influential player.

A Barak-8 missile, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is launched during a test. (IAI)

This year has seen multiple reports that Israel and its regional allies are working on developing a joint defense system to protect against the threat of Iranian drones and missiles.

Israeli Air Force officials said Jerusalem was working on a prospective alliance with its Middle East partners, and the countries have also recently developed joint systems for detecting missile and drone threats.

And in June, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that an “already in action” air defense pact between Israel and its regional allies had served to thwart Iran in ways he did not disclose.

The notion of a joint air defense system between Israel and its Arab neighbors was raised during the Negev Summit of foreign ministers from Israel, the US, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt in March. It was also reportedly discussed in talks between the US and Saudi Arabia.

Israeli military officials have said they have seen an increase in Iranian use of drone attacks in recent years, dubbing it Iran’s “UAV terror.”

The Israel Defense Forces has confirmed it intercepted at least four Iranian drones heading for Israel or the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent years. Another two drones launched from Iran en route to Israel were intercepted by US jets over Iraq in February.

The IDF believes Iran is attempting to arm all of its proxies in the region — in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen — with hundreds and even thousands of UAVs, in addition to providing military training.

Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.

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