The Defense Ministry is generally silent on arms deals made by Israeli companies overseas, but reports in the foreign media – based on Israeli and international sources – claimed that Israeli weapons and defense systems sales rose 14 percent in 2016, a total of $800 million more, over their 2015 levels. Total sales were about $6.5 billion, the reports quoted by Yediot Achronot said.
Most of the sales were to European countries, both eastern and western. Drones were a popular item among international customers, mostly used for patrolling and border security. Latin America is also a growing market, and several large deals were completed with armies in Africa, according to Yediot Achronot.
The biggest-ever sales year for the Israeli weapons industry was 2012, when sales reached $7.5 billion, based on two very large deals that year, Ministry officials told the newspaper. “More countries are seeking to buy knowledge and systems from us, and we are seeing more deals where a Defense Ministry in a given country will contact us directly for help in setting up a deal,” the officials said.
According to data supplied by the Ministry, 75 percent of Israeli systems are exported; the IDF is not a particularly good customer of Israeli defense and weapons systems, as the military aid that the United States supplies is spent strictly in the U.S. The biggest product/service supplied by Israel is refurbishing of old military planes, with Israeli teams upgrading their communication capabilities, engines and ranges.