Elbit to Provide Laser System to IDF, North America in $50 Million Deal

Norway's FM recently told Haaretz that his country's decision to divest the defense contractor wasn't anti-Israeli.

Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems Ltd said on Thursday it won contracts totaling $50 million to supply various types of laser-based systems to Israel's Defense Ministry and to North American customers.

The Israeli ministry will be supplied with laser systems, while in North America, Elbit Systems will supply two different customers with airborne laser systems.

The orders were received by Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Elop and are to be delivered over the next two years.

The Israeli defense contractor had been in the eye of a diplomatic storm of late, after Norway's finance minister, Kristin Halvorsen, announced at a press conference in Oslo in September of last year that the country had decided to divest from Elbit Systems due to its role in supplying technology for the West Bank separation fence.

The decision followed a recommendation issued by the Ethics Committee, whose role is to ensure that the government's investments abroad are in line with its ethical guidelines. The finance minister said Norway is not interested in funding a company so "blatantly involved in violating international humanitarian law."

On Monday, Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store told Haaretz that while it is true that a major Norwegian pension fund divested from Elbit Systems because of the company's involvement in building the West Bank separation fence, this did not imply an anti-Israel bias, Store said. The fund divests whenever a company "breaches ethical standards," he explained, adding that it had also divested from certain French, American and Russian firms.

Furthermore, the fund is currently invested in 40 different Israeli companies that are not involved in building the fence, he noted. "That's the big picture."

On Wednesday it was announced that Elbit Systems of America unit would equip U.S. Marines attack helicopters with its Tactical Video Data Link (TVDL) system.

The system will provide U.S. Marine helicopter pilots with live video and targeting information, which they can transmit to other aircraft and ground forces. It will be operational on U.S. Marine helicopters by the end of 2010.

Elbit Systems of America President Raanan Horowitz said the TVDL would "greatly enhance situational awarness and dissemination of valuable sensor information" to Marine pilots.