How Israel Became Tech Giant in the Deserts of Middle East


Since its inception in 1948, tiny Israel faced odd circumstances to ensure its survival, surrounded by hostile neighbors and with little resources Israel tried to stand among nations of the world.

A country of just 8million people successfully faced all storms. The question arises of how Israel became militarily so advanced in just 70 years. A country whose early exports were just oranges and fake teeth is now one of the world’s largest defense exporters.

It stands at approximately $6.5 billion in annual arms sales. From drones to satellites, missile defense systems to cyber warfare, Israel is leading the world when it comes to new warfare technology.

Sitting on the front lines of how wars are fought in the 21st century, Israel has developed in its arms trade new weapons. Similarly, it retrofitted old ones so they remain effective, relevant, and deadly on a constantly-changing battlespace.

Well, the answer to all questions lies in a combination of characteristics unique to Israel.

The First is Israel’s spending on research and development. About 4.5 % of its GDP goes to R&D, of that amount 30% goes to products of Military nature. By comparison, only 17 percent of US R&D is for the military.

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The second reason is the culture of innovation and creativity. Young Israelis are required to serve in Israeli Defense Forces, where they carry out missions with deadly risk factors. The military service helps young Israeli to be bold and creative.

Thirdly, Israel has been in a perpetual state of conflict with its neighbors. This reality has helped Israel to be more advanced and creative to keep higher deterrence amongst its neighbors.

Last, Israel is a recipient of major US funding since 1976 which had helped fuel its military innovation.  The story of Israeli military technology born out of wars is its advancement, lethality, and performance on the battleground.

For Example, Israel’s Guardium Robotic Border Patrol Vehicles are a part of a new category of robotic weapons known as Unmanned Ground Vehicles or UGVs.

Israel is the first country in the world to use robots replacing soldiers on missions like border patrols. Equipped with a range of sensors, cameras, and weapons. It can be driven by a soldier sitting in a command center. Thus, making it completely autonomous.

IDF is relying on other UGVs like robotic snakes to infiltrate inside the tunnel. On the sea, Israeli forces have developed a robotic vehicle called “protector” to protect its coast along the Mediterranean Sea.

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Missile Defense Systems

Israel has also developed an Anti-missile defense system. Such as the Arrow, to intercept long-range ballistic missiles, David’s Sling to intercept medium-range rockets, and cruise missiles. Meanwhile, the combat-proven Iron Dome has provided Israel with a major anti-missile defense system to counter rocket attacks from its enemies.

Since 1988, Israel launched its spy satellite into space. For the last 30 years, Israel is an operating eight spy satellites. With satellites installed with radar systems provide Israel has a major edge to track down its targets during fog, clouds, or nighttime.

Israeli Drones

With Israel’s technological advancements moving in various directions, its Drones are worthy of mentioning here. The Heron TP is Israel’s largest unmanned aerial vehicle with an 85-foot wingspan, the same as a Boeing 737 airliner. It can stay airborne for 24 hours and carry a 1-ton payload. It is also believed that Heron TP is also capable of launching air-to-surface missiles.

Israel was the first country in the world to operate drones in combat operations. Its first use of drones was in 1969 to track down the movement of Egyptian troops along the Suez.

Now with every IDF operation, Drones are part of the planning and execution of the operation.

The Top-Secret Tank

With foreign partners refusal to sell heavy military equipment because of the political cost. Israelis proved themselves to be more creative. Its Merkava tank is considered one of the lethal and most protected tanks in the world. It can reach speeds of 40 mph and comes with a new modular armor kit.

Its trophy active protection system provides a personal missile defense system for the individual tanks.

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However, Israel’s leapfrog in technology has also produced certain constructive side effects.  For one it has converted Israel into a nation of startups. Another one is arms diplomacy. Nations that wanted to seek modern weapons need to work more on relations.

This has provided Israel to set out strategic relations with countries. Thus, strengthening its geopolitical status in the region. In addition to these, Israel has also checkmated its adversaries in the region. Israel’s current normalization of relations with Gulf countries is part of its arms diplomacy. If you want to learn more about Israel and its defense innovation read the book The Weapon Wizard” by authors Yaakov and Amir Bohbot.


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