January 10, 2018

Israeli military technology discovered in Kuwait, despite ban

The Kuwaiti armed forces have been found to be using Israeli military technology, despite the Arab country not recognising the Jewish state and imposing a decades-long trade embargo.

Several Kuwaiti National Guard vehicles appear to have been outfitted with Israeli-made optical sensors, which Shephard saw first-hand at a recent defence industry exhibition held in Kuwait City in December.

The technology, which is fitted to the turret of the National Guard’s Pandur armoured vehicles, is known as the Multi Threat Detection System (MTDS) and warns the vehicle crew if they are being targeted by anti-tank weapons on the ground or laser-guided bombs from aircraft.

A spokesperson from Israeli company Elbit Systems confirmed that the sensor photographed on the turret of the Kuwait National Guard vehicle was its MTDS product.

However, the spokesperson stressed that Elbit Systems had not sold the sensor to any Middle Eastern countries and that it was a ‘baseline off the shelf item’ that had been sold to vehicle manufacturers worldwide.

The Pandur vehicles operated by the Kuwait National Guard were built by General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS)-Steyr, a Vienna-based subsidiary of General Dynamics Corporation. The sensor appears on the infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) variant of the Pandur, which is outfitted with a 25mm cannon.

The National Guard use the highly-protected Pandur for internal security missions and border protection.

The Israeli technology is fitted to the guard’s newer batch of Pandur 6x6 vehicles, which were acquired around the 2013/14 timeframe and built at GDELS-Steyr facility in Simmering, Austria, which has since closed.

It is not known how many IFV variants the Kuwaitis operate.

Photos taken in March 2014 show Kuwaiti soldiers training on the new Pandur vehicles, including an IFV platform with the Israeli MTDS already present. This suggests that the Kuwaitis received the vehicles with the technology already installed and were not fitted to the vehicles after delivery.

GDELS-Steyr did not provide comment when requested.

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