How to Maintain Israel's Qualitative Military Edge in a Changing Middle East

(Defense News) Yair Ramati - The U.S. has a long-standing, bipartisan commitment to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge (QME). With both Israel and the Gulf states facing a similar threat from Iran and its proxies, it remains unclear how wise a policy it is to object to Gulf countries procuring modern weapons systems from the U.S. Blocking such procurements could push the UAE to purchase Russia's Su-57 stealth fighter jet instead of the U.S. F-35, and it is not clear how such a scenario would better serve the mutual interests of the U.S. and Israel. No policy is free from risks, and it is necessary for Israel to identify these and manage them appropriately. Two of the most disturbing risks are long-term regime instability and the potential of other countries achieving advanced defense technology. Governments that are pragmatic today could become hostile tomorrow. Examples include the Muslim Brotherhood's takeover of Egypt, the conversion of Turkey from an ally of Israel to a bitter opponent, and Iran's change from a close partner of the U.S. and Israel to a sworn adversary. In order to navigate these risks with minimum negative impacts, strategies can include technological differentiation, based on the idea that not all platforms are the same and that the U.S. can keep some of its naval and airborne platform software packages to itself. Opening new technological routes for upgrading Israeli-American mutual cooperation, and increasing the volume and diversity of American pre-positioning of military equipment in Israel, would also further such strategies, as would deepening cooperation in missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and cooperation in space. The writer, an expert at the MirYam Institute, is a former director for the development, production and delivery of missile defense systems with Israel's Defense Ministry.

2020-12-10 00:00:00

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