Israel's defense sector exports reached $3.6 billion last year, beating forecasts, according to Major General (res) Yossi Ben-Hanan, head of the defense export aid department at the Defense Ministry. This is the sector's second best performance ever and an increase of $500 million over 2003. Defense exports reached $4.1 billion in 2002.
Ben-Hanan was speaking yesterday at the signing of the sale of Israel Military Industries' light arms unit, Magen, to IWI, controlled by businessman Samy Katsav.
Israeli exports of military goods account for 10 percent of the global trade in weaponry, making Israel one of the five leading nations in the world in arms sales.
According to the ministry's figures, India is the number one customer of Israeli-manufactured arms. In 2004, new contracts were signed between the Indian Defense Ministry and Israeli defense companies to the tune of $1.7 billion. Of this, $1.1 billion came from India's purchase of three early warning Phalcon planes from Israel Aicraft Industries and its subsidiary Elta Electronics.
India also bought fighting equipment and systems from Israeli firms to the tune of $500 million.
The Defense Ministry believes that the current trade between the two states will increase in the future. Nevertheless, the ministry forecasts that Israel's military exports will total a more moderate $2.5 billion for 2005.