Israel has agreed to sell an advanced air defence system to the United Arab Emirates, two sources familiar with the matter said, in the first such known deal between the two since they forged ties in 2020, Reuters reported.
Sources told the new agency that Israel approved the UAE’s request in the middle of the summer and would supply the Gulf state with Rafael-made SPYDER mobile interceptors, however, the sources declined to provide further details due to the sensitive nature of the deal.
A third source said the UAE had acquired Israeli technology capable of combating drone attacks like those that struck Abu Dhabi earlier this year. Israel’s defence ministry and SPYDER manufacturer Rafael declined to comment. The UAE’s foreign ministry did not comment.
The need to bolster the UAE’s air defence capabilities increased after a series of missile and drone strikes on the Gulf state in January and February. Most of the attacks were intercepted, but one strike killed three civilians in Abu Dhabi.
That strike rattled the leaders of the UAE, which has long boasted of its security and stability in a tumultuous region, foreign diplomats said. An under-construction terminal at Abu Dhabi airport was also hit, injuring civilian workers, sources briefed on the attacks said.
At least some missiles and drones flew at low-altitude to escape detection by the UAE’s US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot interceptors, the sources said.
Rafael says SPYDER can defend large areas from threats such as drones, cruise missiles, attack aircraft, helicopters and bombers, including at low altitude.