from the April 2016 issue

Leading Edge Aerospace Capabilities

With five satellites in space launched from Israel, the country is one of only eight nations in the world with an independent space-launch capability. The country's national aeronautical corporation - Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), which has led the country's space program, has also developed the Arrow, the world's first-ever Anti-Tactical Ballistic Missile system. The country's aerospace capabilities also include the know-how to upgrade a broad range of aircraft and helicopters and Israeli firms are world leaders in unmanned aircraft - UAVs.

The country's aerospace industry has been able to benefit from a close relationship with the Israeli Air Force (IAF). Historically, it has been the success of the IAF and its superiority in the air, which has led the Israel Defense Forces to victory. New aerospace systems and sub-systems developed in Israel have the advantage of being immediately tested by the IAF, sometimes in real-time mission and operational conditions, providing a stream of feedback to local developers and manufacturers.

IAI's space and missile achievements include the Shavit launcher, the Ofeq Imaging Satellite and Amos Communication Satellite and, in cooperation with the U.S., the Arrow missile. An agreement has been signed between IAI and Boeing for establishing a production infrastructure for manufacturing Arrow missile components.

Other Israeli firms like Elbit Systems also specialize in aerospace systems. These systems include space and airborne reconnaisance systems, UAVs, space cameras and thermal imaging systems, and the production of structural components and parts for the world's leading aerospace companies. This includes, through its subsidiary Cyclone Aviation Products, upgrading a wide range of fixed wing and rotor aircraft and helicopters including the F-4, F-5, F-15, F-16 and MiG-21 fighter aircraft, the CH-53, Super Cobra, Super Puma and V-22 helicopters and L-39 and ALX trainers. These upgrade programs have become increasingly significant in recent years as air forces worldwide are faced by ongoing budget cuts, while coming under increasing pressure to integrate the latest technological systems into existing fleets of aircraft. Another Israeli company specializing in aircraft engine refurbishing is Bet Shemesh Engines.

Israel's budget-oriented upgrade packages are able to improve an aircraft's capabilities, while lengthening its life-cycle, and lowering a pilot's work-load. Israeli firms have undertaken these projects on a turn-key basis from conception through to implementation and subsequent maintenance for both the Israel Air Force and overseas air forces.

Israel's aerospace industry also provides a broad range of leading edge components, accessories, materials and technologies to the world's major aircraft manufacturers. Products on offer include the most advanced radar systems developed by IAI's subsidiary Elta Systems Group, satellite and other innovative communication systems, glass cockpits, electro-optical systems, advanced propulsion.

Smart weapons systems include the Python 4 and 5 and Derby missiles, developed by RAFAEL Armament Development Authority, which are considered to be the world's most advanced air-to-air missile. Other products in the Israeli arsenal include laser-guided bombs and missiles and kits converting conventional weapons and bombs into smart weapons systems. Israel is also a world leader in search and rescue systems, armament management systems, mission computers, navigation equipment, cockpit displays, electronic warfare systems, avionic suites and airborne self protection systems. RAFAEL also develops microsatellites.

IAI has also led the local aerospace industry, and the world, in developing unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). The Hermes, for example, is a long range UAV for intelligence gathering purposes, while the Harpi, is an attack UAV. The new generation of UAVs currently being developed will include Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs), just 20 centimeters in size as well as UAVs with the capabilities of making vertical take offs and landings and improved control by using ground or airborne relay.

Israel Military Industries (IMI) specializes in rocket systems and through its subsidiary Ashot Ashkelon Industries produces long and short shafts for jet engines, products for aircraft high-lift systems, and switchboxes for the aerospace industry.

Following 9/11, IAI has developed homeland defense products including Flight Guard which when installed on aircraft offers a proven civil aviation self-protection system to combat terrorist missile attacks. Nice Systems' manufactures transceivers which sendĘ digital signals to air traffic controllers tracking planes and the company has also developed video recorders enabling pilots to inspect events in the passenger cabin.

Israel's aerospace industry also has the advantage of a highly skilled and experienced work force, many of them former senior air force personnel who continue to serve the armed forces reserves. A classic example of this relationship between the IAF and industry is BVR Systems Ltd. Founded in 1986 by two Israeli air-force pilots, BVR is a world leader in the development, manufacture and marketing of advanced computer-based training systems for pilots and other military applications. Their products include such innovations as Combat-Maneuvering-Instrumentation Systems, advanced algorithms, collision avoidance systems, advanced imagery, data-links, command and control, and man-machine interface applications.

Other companies in Israel's private aerospace sector include CONTROP Precision Technologies Ltd., which specializes in the development and production of electro-optical and precision motion control systems for helicopters, UAVs and light aircraft. Elisra Electronic Systems has developed EW systems which are installed in over 30 types of fixed and rotary winged aircraft, while its sister company, Tadiran Spectralink, also part of Elisra Group, produces advanced wireless communication systems for a variety of airborne platforms and Blades Technology International (BTI), which manufactures high quality jet engine fan, compressor and turbine blades. Techjet Aerofoils Ltd. is a world leader in the development and manufacture of compressor aerofoils. The company's products are based on state-of-the-art technology and automation, ensuring ultimate quality through controlled processes.T.A.T. Technologies develops and manufactures a range of aerospace products including heat management and cooling systems.

RADA Electronic Industries develops and manufactures core avionic systems, ground information management and debriefing systems and automatic test equipment and Orlite Industries has developed advanced composite products for aerospace and military applications.

The 20th century saw the decisive battle front move from land and sea to the air. This process will be certain to intensify during the 21st century with an even more pressing need for technological systems, which are smarter, more efficient and cost effective. Systems, which Israeli firms, are well placed to provide.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report April 2016

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