Commentary: The submarine crisis between France and Britain, and the connection to Israeli cruise missiles

The British and the French wanted to develop an alternative to the American Harpoon missile together, but then the Australian submarine crisis arrived and drove a wedge between the two countries. This development could raise the chances of an acquisition of a foreign missile 

Commentary: The submarine crisis between France and Britain, and the connection to Israeli cruise missiles

Top left: the Sea Breaker. Bottom right: the Sea Serpent. Photos courtesy of Rafael and IAI

Israeli defense companies participated recently in the DSEI 2021 exhibition in Britain. Two of them, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael, presented cruise missiles. IAI presented the Sea Serpent (together with Thales), and Rafael presented the Sea Breaker.       

A person might ask why a company presents certain products at a certain exhibition in a certain country. Well, it's not a random decision, but rather a decision based on marketing work that maps out the current and future needs of the targeted market. It is also based on acquisition projects that are to be announced.   

But let's get back to Britain. Well, according to open-source reports, there is a future Royal Navy project called Interim Surface-to-Surface Guided Weapon (I-SSGW). The goal of the project, according to shephardmedia, is to replace the Navy's Harpoon anti-ship missiles by 2028. Despite the urgency of the issue, Britain has yet to officially invite foreign suppliers to negotiate for the project. 

According to the report, it is possible that an alternative to a foreign acquisition is that Britain and France will jointly develop the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW), a naval cruise missile, for the two countries. The MBDA company is supposed to develop the missile.  

But the talks over the FC/ASW are currently suspended because of the submarine crisis. Britain actually "betrayed" France by going with the U.S. to sell to Australia an alternative to the French submarines.  

In other words, if the submarine crisis deepens the rift between France and Britain over a new naval cruise missile, there will be a greater likelihood that Britain will decide to acquire a foreign product. And that could benefit the Israeli defense companies that, as mentioned, are presenting such products to the British market.

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