Israeli industry substitutes Brazil for Turkey

Ten months after Israeli-Turkish relations ran aground in the wake of the flotilla to Gaza, Israel’s defense industry seems to have found an alternative to Turkey in Latin America. At the LAAD Defense and Security 2011 exposition, which opens in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow, Israeli companies will display their wares for the battlefield and protection of sensitive facilities.
“We woke up late to globalization, and there’s now a need to close gaps and even get ahead of competitors. We can do this thanks to our portfolio of products in various fields, including satellites, launchers, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), missiles, and planes,” Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) CEO Itzhak Nissan, who left for Brazil on Friday. “Thanks to new understandings recently reached between Israel and Brazil, we can sell more to the Brazilian market and expand our business collaboration with it.”

The Israeli-Brazilian agreement reflects the new standing of Brazil and other Latin American countries for Israel’s defense industry. SIBAT Ministry of Defense Foreign Defense Assistance and Defense Export Organization calls Brazil a target market and helps Israeli companies enter it.

“The new understandings between Israel and Brazil will enable Israeli companies to offer products which were previously forbidden. Whereas for years, business ties amounted to sales of specific unclassified technologies, Israeli industry can now offer a much broader range of products to Brazil, creating a real dimension of worthwhile contracts with this market,” a defense executive told “Globes”. “Brazil is one of the alternatives to the Turkish market, which used to be our biggest customer.”

At LAAD, IAI will unveil its new intelligence gathering and observation vehicle. The vehicle, which can travel through difficult terrain, was jointly developed by IAI subsidiary Elta and Brazil’s Tac Motors.

Elta marketing manager Igo Licht said that the Brazilian authorities can use the vehicle for a range of missions, including border defense. “The Brazilian market is growing because of pending sports events, including the World Cup 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games. These will require the authorities to invest heavily in homeland security, and Israel has goods to sell,” he said.

Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) identified Brazil’s potential early on, acquiring Brazilian defense companies. At LAAD, it plans to display a range of products, including the Hermes 450 UAV.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.) CEO Yedidia Yaari is heading a delegation. The company will display an example of its Tamir missile used in the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Other Israeli exhibitors include Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI) and its small arms spinoff Israel Weapon Industries Ltd. (IWI), Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. (Nasdaq: GILT; TASE: GILT), Orbit Technologies Ltd. (TASE:ORBI), SDS – Star Defense Systems Ltd. (TASE:SDS), NICE Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: NICE; TASE: NICE), Verint Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: VRNT), Plasan Sasa Ltd., Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: RADA), New Noga Light Ltd., and Ness Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: NSTC; TASE: NSTC) unit Ness TSG Ltd.

Globes