August 19, 2013: Despite decades of Arab boycotts and pressure on countries to not deal with Israel, military exports from Israel continue to grow. In the last year Israeli firms sold $1.8 billion worth of weapons to the Americas (mostly the United States, but a third of that went to South America), $1.6 billion to European customers and $200 million to African nations. About half those sales are for anti-aircraft systems. Israel has a wide range of anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, many of them using successful Israeli air-to-air missile designs for ground based systems.
Israeli air defense technology has proved itself in combat, is famous for its reliability and technical excellence and is priced to sell. Israel is also a major exporter of military space satellites, nigh vision and surveillance gear and all manner of military communications equipment. Israel is also second only to the U.S. as a UAV exporter and was first to develop a lot of key UAV technology that the U.S. built on. Israel has also pioneered the development of add-on armor for combat and non-combat vehicles. Israel is also one of the premier developers of electronic warfare equipment (for aircraft and ground vehicles). Israel also exports warships, warplane upgrades and all manner of technical service.
Because of all this Israeli military exports last year were once again over $7 billion. Four years ago Israel became one of the top four arms exporters on the planet, shipping $7.2 billion worth of military equipment. The year before Israel had exported $6.9 billion. The U.S. is the largest exporter, followed by Russia and Germany. Israel is holding on to the number four despite being much smaller than the top three (the U.S. has a population of 310 million, Russia 142 million, and Germany 82 million people compared to 7.8 million in Israel). Israel defense exports account for about three percent of their GDP, compared to .7 percent in Russia and even less in the United States and Germany.
Half the weapons exported worldwide last year came from the United States (mostly) and Russia. European nations have long occupied the next three slots (Germany, France, and Britain). But lately German and Israeli exports have been growing. The other big exporters are Spain, China, the Netherlands, and Italy. These top ten exporters accounted for over 90 percent of the exports. The major importers are Middle Eastern Arab nations, India, South Korea, China, and (until recently) Greece.
Israel and Germany have been gaining more sales because of reliability and quality. Israel has a major advantage in that many of its weapons and military equipment have proved their worth in combat. Often subject to arms embargoes, Israel learned to design and build a lot of its own weapons and equipment. With a highly educated and motivated workforce, Israeli gear was often world class, while also cheaper and more reliable (and often combat proven) than similar stuff coming from the United States and Europe.