As if there was a need for further proof that the “UAS wars” between Israeli manufacturers have long crossed the line, another example surfaced in recent weeks.
This dirty war has been going on for years, with the ministry of defence helpless to stop it.
The recent incident involves a tender made by the Polish ministry of defence for the purchase of UAS. As always Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems rushed to Poland with very detailed proposals
According to the Polish press, the Polish Deputy Defence Minister General Waldemar Skrzypczak supposedly preferred Elbit’s Hermes 450 UAS over IAI’s Heron 1. The deputy minister lost his security clearance after he allegedly promoted Elbit as a “sole source”, in spite of the fact that the competition with IAI was still ongoing.
The deputy minister paid the price, but he can be considered a “second tier” casualty.
The first casualty is the Israeli aerospace industry. There have been too many shady incidents in recent years, and all were connected to UAS deals.
The defence ministry, despite its various oversight divisions, can’t keep things in order.
In the past there have been several cases where the war between IAI and Elbit over UAS sales caused millions of dollars’ worth of damages. The most severe incident was connected to a large deal negotiated in Colombia. The war between the two companies became, according to some sources, extremely tense, and the Colombian authorities put the tender on ice.
Only after another round of negotiations and numerous visits of top defence ministry officials in Colombia did Elbit clinch the contract.
The situation is causing incidents that do not help the industry. In recent weeks two IAI employees driving in the Golan Heights were seen photographing an Elbit UAS test flight. This “horrible” act of industrial espionage served to add fuel to the fire. IAI was forced to apologise, although anyone in the area could have recorded the test flight as well.
The situation has reached and crossed a line with no real effort to stop the deterioration.
The fear is that potential clients will try to avoid these embarrassing situations and bypass Israel as a source for advanced UAS. Not every country needs combat-proven Israeli-made systems.
So at this point, there is no sign that a “responsible adult” will try to put an end to this dirty, damaging war. The results will be reflected in the annual financial reports of the companies involved.