Israel to show off defense tech at Bahrain airshow; paratroopers make joint jump

Officials hail 2020’s Abraham Accords as enabling deeper ties between the countries

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

File: An aerobatics team performs in the skies during the Bahrain International Airshow in Sakhir, Bahrain, January 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, file)
File: An aerobatics team performs in the skies during the Bahrain International Airshow in Sakhir, Bahrain, January 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, file)

A delegation of Israeli defense contractors will participate in the Bahrain International Airshow next month, in a sign of the growing military ties between Israel and the Gulf nation after the two countries normalized relations over two years ago.

The weapons show, celebrating its tenth year, primarily focuses on the aerospace industry, both civilian and military.

Bahrain’s Ambassador to Israel hailed the Jewish state’s participation in a letter to the delegation’s organizers, ISDEF — an Avnon Group company that holds an annual defense show in Israel — saying it is “an important milestone in strengthening the relationship between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel.”

Among the Israeli companies heading to the exhibition between November 9 and 11, the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries said it would showcase “a variety of its state-of-the-art aviation products,” including radars, air defense systems, drones defense, and other products.

IAI doard of directors chairman Amir Peretz said the Abraham Accords, the 2020 agreements mediated by the United States between Israel and a number of Arab countries, “have opened the door for us to participate for the first time in this exhibition and to work collaboratively with our neighbors to deal with the common threats we face in the region.”

“IAI’s capabilities, alongside the impressive relationships that we developed over the last two years with our colleagues in the Gulf States, will allow us to continue to expand the company’s contribution to both technology and defense in the region, whereby our proven capabilities can help ensure a higher degree of regional stability,” he added.

Boaz Levy, the CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, speaks to The Associated Press at the Dubai Air Show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 15, 2021. (AP/Jon Gambrell)

IAI’s CEO Boaz Levy said the company believes “there are several opportunities to work together, share our knowledge, and develop new defense and civilian solutions with our partners in the Gulf region, and together, to create a brighter and safer future for our region.”

ISDEF said the official Israeli pavilion would span some 200 square meters “where the best technologies and innovations of Israeli companies will be presented, alongside live demonstrations.”

Mati Weinberg, ISDEF’s CEO, also hailed the Abraham Accords for enabling Israel’s participation in the weapons show.

“The normalization of relations has led to a huge potential of business opportunities in the Israeli defense industry and is an important bridge to the recognition of leading technologies, the creation of government relations, and the advancing exports,” Weinberg said.

“The Israeli pavilion at the upcoming exhibition is a historic event that will be a unique and extraordinary opportunity for the Israeli industry to reveal its capabilities to a world it has not yet met, and to produce a ground for new ties as part of Israel’s trade and economic ties,” he added.

A Gulf Air A320 plane coming from the Bahraini capital Manama arrives at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on September 30, 2021. (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

In another sign of closer defense ties, a delegation of Israeli paratroopers held a jump over Bahrain on Wednesday, alongside soldiers from the Gulf nation, the UAE and the United States to mark two years since the signing of the Abraham Accords.

Paratroopers from Israel, Bahrain, the UAE and the US are seen in Bahrain on October 26, 2022. (Screenshot: Instagram/nasser13hamad: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Israel Defense Forces said some 40 paratroopers participated in the event. Additionally, the sides held bilateral discussions “to strengthen cooperation between the armies.”

Senior IDF officers, including Maj. Gen Itai Veruv, commander of the Depth Corps and Military Colleges, and head of the IDF Infantry and Paratroopers Corps Brig. Gen. Guy Levy, participated in the meetings.

“We engaged in strategic discussions, analyzing situations and making plans for cooperation for the future. Two years ago such a meeting was nothing more than a far-fetched imagination or a dream,” said Veruv in remarks published by the IDF.

“The thought that we would sit like this naturally and discuss as partners, open up knowledge and create a platform for collaboration was unthinkable,” he added.

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