Israel has not signed the missile technology control regime (MTCR) agreement but it complies with it. But this limits the export potential of some Israeli-developed unmanned air systems (UAS). Israel will not say it officially but, like other countries, it thinks the MTCR is outdated in every aspect.
But until the MTCR is adapted to the new reality, Israeli companies will have to find creative ways to comply with the regime and yet export their systems.
The first company that has been confronted with the MTCR restriction is Aeronautics. This company had to develop a “limited capability” version of its Dominator XP, an unmanned version of the two-engine DA-42 light aircraft.
The Dominator XP is a very capable platform that can be easily adapted to a variety of missions.
The first export contract of the Dominator XP was signed in mid 2011, shortly after the XP was cleared for export by the Israeli ministry of defence.
The Dominator XP can achieve an endurance of 28h and is capable of carrying a 300kg (660lb) payload. Its maximum take-off weight is 2,000kg.
But the problem is wider. While the international interest in the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP MALE+ UAS is growing, its export is limited in spite of the fact that Israel is not a member of the MTCR regime.
While a guided gliding weapon system with a 250lb warhead is not limited by the regime, the Heron TP is. “Strange” is an understatement.
This MALE+ UAS is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engine. It has a maximum take-off weight of more than 4t. The fuselage is 13m (43ft) long with a wingspan of 26m.
Sources in Israel assessed that some countries that are operating Israeli made UAS are the most likely potential customers for a jointly developed MALE+ UAS that will comply with the MTCR.
The twisted way to bypass the MTCR proves that the agreement must be amended in such a way that it will be relevant to the circumstances.
But in the meantime in order not to shorten the list of potential customers, Israeli companies may be forced to talk with countries that may show an interest in developing weapon systems based on the vast Israeli experience
These countries have one thing in common – they, like Israel, are not limited by the MTCR, but unlike Israel, do not “volunteer” to comply with it.
Many countries that make long-range weapons that can carry, among other things, weapons of mass destruction have not heard about the MTCR. The time is now right for countries that have a clear policy for the export of their locally made weapon systems to not be forced to be creative.