Israel is one of the top ten weapons exporters in the world, a senior defense official said on Tuesday after the Defense Ministry announced the country's military exports reached $8.3 billion in 2020, buoyed by a 15 percent spike in the number of agreements signed compared with the previous year.
"The Defense Ministry is cementing Israel's status among the world's top 10 defense exporters in the world," International Defense Cooperation Directorate Head Brig. Gen. (Res.) Yair Kulas said, adding that it's the country's second-highest sales figure ever, behind 2017, when the total hit $9.2 billion.
Despite fears the coronavirus pandemic would impact 2020 sales, most agreements were signed before the outbreak of the pandemic, doing little in hampering revenue. The ministry cited new markets in allowing sales to jump $1 billion from 2019.
"During the past year, we have worked intensively to deepen government agreements and cooperation with our partners around the world, and we will continue to do so," Defense Minister Benny Gantz was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.
Gantz, who is scheduled to pay a state visit to the United States, called to expand defense exports to the U.S. military so that the IDF could enjoy more lucrative arms deals with its biggest defense partner in the future.
The government figures said radar and early warning systems along with ammunition and armament each contributed 16 percent of sales, while manned aircraft and avionics accounted for 13 percent, as did observation and optronics.
Missiles, rockets and air defense systems sales contributed 10 percent.
Other areas included communication, drone and intelligence systems.
Sales to the Asia and the Pacific region, including Israel's allies in the Persian Gulf, comprised 44 percent, amounting to a whopping $800 million, with 30 percent going to Europe, 20 percent to North America, four percent to Africa and two percent to Latin America.
The ministry noted that Israel does not do business with dictatorships or controversial regimes such as in Belarus and Myanmar. Gantz added that Israel does not export arms to countries that commit genocide and has made sure that all trade partners were on par with the country's moral standard.
A major supplier of arms to Azerbaijan, Israel in 2020 came under diplomatic fire from Armenia over the struggle between the Caucasus neighbors in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh.
According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), over the past five years, Israel has been the top supplier of arms to Azerbaijan, with sales of more than $740 million, putting it ahead of Russia.