Friday, March 29, 2024

Who Arms Israel? - 1 - The USA Arms Production for Israel in the US - by Workers in Palestine


The main countries involved in supplying arms and military goods to Israel are the US, Germany, Italy and the UK. This document outlines sites connected to production for the Israeli military in different countries and, where possible, identifies where military goods are transported from. 

We aim to provide a resource for actions that target the production or transport of military goods, or disrupt the activity of Israel’s military suppliers, and also to link resources that can be used to take action in particular countries. 

Our research identifies companies that produce some of the arms most fundamental to the Israeli military, including Lockheed Martin (prime contractor for the F35 fighter jet), Boeing (manufacturer for many of the guided weapons used by the Israeli military), BAE Systems (a leading supplier for the F35), Leonardo (part of the F35 coalition) and Raytheon (manufacturer of the Paveway guided bomb).

Action is possible in different forms – while we identify sites of direct production for the Israeli military, it is also possible to target multinational companies that produce for Israel even if military goods are made at another site. Likewise, it is possible to target companies involved in the transportation of military goods to Israel.

Arms production is highly international and many of the most traceable supply chains are for goods such as fighter jets made by international coalitions. These aircraft are central to the current war and bombardment of Gaza – Israel is using “every combat aircraft at its disposal” , including F15s, F16s, F35s and AH-64 Apache helicopters. There are 408 links in the supply chain for the F35, for example: see a list of companies involved here.  

Inevitably, supply chains are much more complex than this document can account for and many smaller companies are involved. If you use this document as a starting point, you may be able to identify more detailed supply chains to disrupt. 


The USA 

Arms Production for Israel in the US

The USA is Israel’s largest weapons supplier, supplying over 90 per cent of its arms imports.  The USA gives Israel almost $4bn in military aid annually, “including about $500mn for air and missile defences.” Israel also spends heavily on US weapons, having purchased roughly $53.5bn of military goods from the US over the past seven decades according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, including $6.5bn in the five years to 2022. Israel has made some of these purchases using military aid received from the US. For a list of all arms export licenses agreed through the US Foreign Military Sales Programme, including the primary contractors and sites, see here (NB: not all of these agreements have resulted in exports).

The biggest US arms companies are Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics. These companies are international and have subsidiaries overseas.  

Some of the most significant weapons made in the US for Israel include:

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter 

Israel has bought 50 F35 fighter jets, and taken delivery of 36 by the end of 2022. They are based at the Nevatim Air Base in southern Israel. In 2021, the IOF said that it had used F35s in combat for the first time in Gaza. The F-35 is an international collaboration - see other country profiles for examples of where F35 parts are made. Israel has also developed its own technologies for modifying some elements of the F-35. 

US manufacturing locations (the F35 supply chain in the US is highly extensive and can be traced in more detail here):

  • F-35s are assembled at Air Force Plant 4 – which is owned by the US government and operated by Lockheed Martin – at Fort Worth, Texas. 
  • The engines are made by Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford and Middletown, Connecticut. 
  • The electronic systems are made by BAE Systems in Nashua, New Hampshire and Endicott, New York. 
  • Control Actuation Systems which help the F35 launch guided weapons are made by Woodward Inc in Santa Clarita, California.
F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft 

Israel is currently negotiating orders for the F15EX fighter jet through the US Foreign Military Sales Programme. According to reporting on the process, Israel’s formal request makes delivery likely by 2028. US manufacturing sites for the F15 and F16 include the following (while the original sales of F15s and F16s – other than the F15EX model – have already taken place, there is a continual supply of spare parts especially during war).

  • The F15EXs are produced at the Boeing plant in St Louis, Missouri. 
  • F16s are made by Lockheed Martin in Greenville, South Carolina
  • In some variants of the F16, the avionics are replaced with Israeli-made ones from companies like Elbit and Israel Aerospace Industries, and with missiles from Rafael - three major Israeli arms companies. 

Military helicopters

US manufacturing sites for military helicopters used by the IOF include:

Refuelling aircraft 
Guided bombs used by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)

The guided bombs used by the IOF are predominantly made in the US and Israel. The following bombs are made by Israeli companies, often in Israel, but they have international sites that manufacture other goods. These include: the Opher Guided Bomb (Elbit), Griffin laser guided bomb (Israel Aerospace Industries); Lizard (Elbit); Spice bombs (Rafael). Elbit has a US subsidiary in Fort Worth, Texas. 

The following are US manufacturing sites for guided bombs used by the IOF:

  • Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMS) tail kits and munitions are made by Boeing in St Charles, Missouri; Lockheed-Martin in Archbald, Pennsylvania; General Dynamics in Garland, Texas; Elwood National Forge Co in Irvine, Pennsylvania; and Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona. 
  • Sidewinder missiles are made by Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, Arizona
  • GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb are made by Boeing in St Louis Missouri 
  • Hellfire missiles – usually launched from Apache helicopters – at least some of these are made by Hellfire Systems in Orlando, Florida, a Lockheed Martin/Boeing joint venture.
  • Iron Dome interceptors are called Tamir and are co-produced by RTX (formerly Raytheon Technologies) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, and assembled in Israel.
  • Paveway II guided bombs are made by Lockheed Martin in Archibald, Pa. and  Raytheon in Tucson, Arizona. 
White Phosphorus

Israel has used white phosphorus in Gaza and Lebanon. 

  • Israel Chemical Ltd (ICL, now ICL Group) provides Monsanto (now Bayer) with phosphates for the production of the white phosphorus chemical provided to Pine Bluff Arsenal (PBA) near Little Rock, Arkansas, for filling. 
Armored Personnel Carriers 

Three weeks into the assault on Gaza, the IOF started ground operations into the Gaza Strip. This involves tanks and armoured personnel carriers, backed up by helicopters and drones. 

  • Power packs for the Israel-made Namer Armored Personnel Carriers are made by MTU America, Novi, MI. MTU America is the North American subsidiary of Rolls Royce Power Systems. 
Naval assets 

Most of the assault on Gaza is being carried out from the air and on the ground, but Israel is also using its Sa’ar 6 corvettes for the first time. 

  • 76mm Naval Guns are made by DRS North America, a Leonardo company
  • The hull and superstructures of the Sa’ar 6 are made in Kiel, Germany, by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS)


Military Transport and Logistics from the US to Israel

While many finished military goods are transported by the military itself, either by military vessels or airlift, components and some goods are transported by sea on board normal container vessels. Ports are key nodes in the supply chain for arms.

The key actor in shipping from the US – and elsewhere in the world – to Israel is the ZIM shipping line. ZIM is the main provider of shipping services to Israel and one of the top ten largest shipping lines in the world. Previously controlled by the Israeli government, ZIM has been privatized and listed on the NY stock exchange over the last two decades. Despite this, it still retains close links to the Israeli state and is crucial to ensuring logistical support for the state and the IDF.

Most military components enter and exit the US via its east coast ports – primarily New York/Newark, Savannah, Charleston, and the Port of Virginia. These ports are typically unionized by the International Longshoremen’s Association, or ILA. This is because most military supply chains center on Europe and the US with many components produced in Europe and final assembly taking place in the US.

With access to US trade data, it is possible to see individual shipments via their “bills of lading”, the documents used by shipping lines to identify shipments, and track patterns of deliveries. In rare instances, this can include weapons shipping on civilian vessels. For example, on March 4, 2023 a shipment of “WARHEADS, ROCKET WITH BURSTING CHARGE” produced by Raytheon in Tucson, Arizona and worth $100,000, left the Port of Virginia headed for Haifa, Israel on the Zim Yokohama containership. Other Raytheon shipments have left on the same route in the following months. In most cases, trade data can identify the routes for components. For example, Dunlop regularly ships tires for the F35 and other military aircraft from its factory in Birmingham, UK either via London to the Port of Virginia or via Liverpool to Charleston.

See section 3B in the Day of Action toolkit for more information on this. 


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