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Revealed: The Secrets Of The Biggest Arms Show In Israel

August 2, 2016

Israeli ISDEF photo

To be perfectly honest none of this information compromises actual secrets with jaw-dropping gravitas. Next year’s ISDEF is a trade show, the largest of its kind in Israel, meaning it has more to do with swapping business cards and late night cocktails than hair-raising covert ops.

In a region saturated with arms shows, however, ISDEF does stand out for its intense focus on homeland security and counter-terrorism. In just three days hundreds of companies flaunt their wares  with shock and awe marketing, both subtle and unsubtle, to find new customers. What follows is a rundown of what took place during the last ISDEF at the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center in Tel Aviv. Hopefully this helps anyone planning to attend or even register their company.

The facts presented are borrowed from the excellent literature found in the 2015 Post Show Review available here.

Israel Tel Aviv Convention Center

The venue.

12,000 People Showed Up

The post-event number crunching revealed a very round grand total for warm bodies present at the last ISDEF. This puts it on par with its rival SOFEX over in Hashemite Jordan. Of this population 1,886 were “international visitors” from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

98 Countries Were Present

Mostly states who’ve been and are customers of weapons made in Israel. Let that sink in.

Lots Of VIPS Too

There were at least 200 government officials, ministers, high ranking officers, chief executives, and directors present during the last ISDEF. A random sampling nets the president of Boeing Israel (among other defense contractor bigwigs), the commander of the German armed forces, an abundance of defense ministry types, and the entire IDF’s chain of command.

That means top brass and the c-suite collide at ISDEF and will collide again next June.

Israel ISDEF commando demonstration

A live demonstration. Nobody was killed!

Live Demonstrations, Everywhere!

Demos are like in-house theater for arms shows. It’s a real life slice of toy soldiers for an adult audience. During ISDEF dozens of companies were involved with nine different live demonstrations about important “categories” such as CQB, SWAT, chemical warfare, commando stuff, and tricky urban warfare.

154 Exhibitors, More Than Half Were From Israel

Based on the organizer’s data, 83 small and large companies from Israel exhibited in ISDEF. Defense contractors from the US were a distant second at 23 exhibitors, just slightly ahead of the Czech Republic’s 17 exhibitors. China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Singapore each had a token presence.

Israel ISDEF arms show musicians

The musical entertainment.

There Was A Party

And it was called the Cocktail Gala held at the posh “boutique venue” Stuko Tel Aviv on June 3, right before the day ISDEF wrapped. 400 guests attended to enjoy, in the words of the organizer, “dinner, dancing, musical entertainment, and a raffle giveaway.”

Indeed, the upcoming ISDEF looks like it will surpass its predecessor in the fun department. In the meantime there are 200 other arms shows and security conferences before ISDEF 2017 opens on June 6. 21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) is a media partner.