When it comes to Israeli aerospace innovations, the sky was never a limit
Israel has one of the strongest and most technologically-advanced economies in the world, with a resilient, diverse and open market. The country is a world leader in UAV production and has advanced space-launching capabilities. Israeli companies can be found among all the links in the aerospace global value chain, from aircraft OEMs to advanced electronic systems and precision metal components.
Israel is known as a world leader in the satellite industry and is one of the 12 countries in the world with independent launching capabilities. The Israeli space industry has also significantly developed its installed equipment capabilities as well as developing satellites and launching systems. The capabilities that Israel has developed make it a leader in nano-satellite technology, just as it was a leader in mini-satellite technology in the early years of the industry. The Israel Space Agency cooperates with many space organisations around the world, including its cooperation agreements with both NASA and ESA.
Among the reasons the Israeli aerospace industry is a global pioneer is the fact that it features high-quality human resources and highly effective work processes. The innovative spirit is cultivated from a very young age. This enhances creativity and easily explain how Israel ranks as the third most innovative nation in the Global Competitiveness Report. Israel’s academic institutions have contributed greatly to establishing and developing the local technology market. According to OECD data, Israel ranks third worldwide in percentage of the population with academic degrees. 49 per cent of the population has an academic degree and approximately one-third of these graduates hold degrees in engineering and technological fields.
Israeli technologies are integrated into the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft. The country maintains its advantages such as relatively low-cost but high-quality manufacturing for Western countries, innovation and entrepreneurship that produce advanced technologies, and operational experience with aerospace defence technologies and products. Most Israeli companies are sub-suppliers that specialise in fields such as machining, electronic systems and components, and composite materials used by the aerospace industry.
Although the majority of aerospace (satellite, defence and electronics) technology development is conducted by the large Israeli corporations, the UAV segment is promoted by smaller Israeli manufacturers that develop exclusive technology. Some of the leading companies in the Aerospace Industry of Israel are profiled here.
ISRAEL AEROSPACE INDUSTRIES (IAI)
A leader in defence, aerospace, and commercial markets, IAI leverages state-of-the-art technology and decades of combatproven experience delivering solutions for national defence and security challenges. A trusted partner, courageous and innovative to deliver affordable capabilities that are needed.
Delivering large turnkey projects, IAI acts as a prime contractor, subcontractor, and team members in dozens of large programmes for the aerospace, land, sea, and cyber domains and multi-domain applications. It offers a vast portfolio producing air and missile defence, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), ground robotics, precision-guided weapons, and loitering munitions. We deliver special-mission aircraft, modernise military aircraft and helicopters, and convert passenger jets into cargo aircraft through modification, conversion, and system integration. Their technology expertise features systems and solutions from reconnaissance satellites and radars to all aspects of command, control, and communications, computing and cyber, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems (C5ISR).The company provides a range of solutions through its four Groups:
IAI’s radar, intelligence, and electronic systems house, ELTA Systems offers a broad range of electronic systems-of-systems for air and space, land, naval, and homeland security applications. These capabilities are based on the solutions developed for C5ISR (ISTAR), Early Warning & Control (AEW&C), Electronic Surveillance (SIGINT/ELINT/COMINT) and countermeasures (C-UAS), Fire Control, Self-Protection, and Self-Defence, with specific specialisation in AI, Cyber, and robotics.
Systems Missiles & Space
All activities related to missile systems run under the Systems, Missiles, and Space Group. These activities include air and missile defence systems, offensive and defensive naval systems, surface-to-surface missiles, and loitering munitions. The group also oversees IAI’s space operations, including the initiation, design, development, delivering, and operations of dozens of observation and communication satellite systems, associated ground control stations, mission centres, and launchers.
Backed by decades of innovation and combat-proven experience with unmanned aerial systems (UAS), as a pioneer and world leading provider of unmanned aerial systems. IAI’s Military Aircraft Group combines state-of-the-art technology and knowhow with hands-on field experience, offering innovative UAS solutions that have earned worldwide reputation for excellence and reliability. Some of the group’s legacy activities are currently managed under the Aviation Group and Golan Industries.
The Aviation Group covers the full spectrum of technologies and capabilities for the design, integration, testing, certification, manufacturing, marketing, and product support of manned and unmanned aircraft. The group also provides comprehensive maintenance services (MRO) for aircraft, engines, and components.
This plethora of hard-power and soft-power solutions relies on proprietary know-how, technologies, systems, and components developed throughout IAI’s four business groups in collaboration with IAI’s excellence centre for aerospace engineering, providing the full range of capabilities to design, develop, and certify new air vehicles. IAI provides the most comprehensive solutions for all domains.
RAFAEL ADVANCED DEFENSE SYSTEMS
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd designs, develops, manufactures and sustains a wide range of state-of-the-art defence systems for air, land, sea, cyber and space applications. For over 70 years, the Company has pioneered advances in defence, cyber and security solutions. Their innovations enable the rapid development of effective solutions for complex battlespace challenges and are based on extensive operational experience and understanding of evolving combat requirements. These agile, combat-proven solutions, are precisely designed and adapted to meet the military requirements of delivering exceptional power and survivability that ensure battlespace superiority as well as a new level of survivability. Globally recognised for technological ingenuity, Rafael’s iconoclastic innovations, based on unique operational experience and a profound grasp of evolving combat realities, ensure an ongoing advantage.
Rafael is one of Israel’s three largest defence companies with 8,000 employees. Roughly 67 per cent employees with advanced degrees in engineering and science, with over 300 PhDs. Rafael applies vast experience and ingenuity in creating unique technological capabilities and specialised components and subsystems, such as rocket motors, warheads and pyrotechnics; and have devised forward-thinking solutions for missile system engineering, electro-optical seekers, image processing, communications, aerodynamics and navigation. Their capabilities include:
Elbit Systems is an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of programmes throughout the world, primarily in the defence and homeland security arenas. They develop and supply a broad portfolio of airborne, land and naval systems and products for defence, homeland security and commercial applications. Their systems and products are installed on new platforms but the company also undertakes to perform comprehensive platform modernisation programmes. In addition, Elbit provides a range of training and support services. The major activities of Elbit Systems include:
Aeronautics Group has been selected as one of the 100 most innovative technological companies in Israel. Aeronautics flagship product brand, the Orbiter family, is considered the global leader in small UAVs. The company has produced close to 1,000 Orbiter MUAV units. Serving a growing list of customers worldwide, Aeronautics supports government and commercial customers with the highest quality systems and services. Aeronautics operates with dozens of clients throughout the world. Its leading system, the Aerostar Tactical UAS is serving 15 customers on four continents. Aerostar alone has accumulated more than 1,50,000 operational flight hours since its first flight in 2001. Their systems have been operational in conflict zones in Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chad and more. The considerable combat experience of Aeronautics systems is valued by customers in the defence sector. Aeronautics’ competitive edge as a UAS Integrator is most evident in the operational expertise that complements their products’ technology that are tailored to Customer’s specific requirements and needs.
Aeronautics maintains the entire infrastructure necessary for development, production, integration, flight-testing, certification, and support of operating UAS throughout their service. They also have extensive in-house R&D departments that include a large team of experienced engineers from diverse specialisations, developing the advanced mission-related capabilities of their unique UAVs, proprietary flight control software, innovative navigation, communications, and security interfaces, and more. To support customers and guarantee reliable and continuous UAS operations, Aeronautics has established the Unmanned Systems Academy that provides high quality, in-depth training programmes for UAS mission commanders, operators and technicians.
Gilat Satellite Networks is a leading global provider of satellite-based broadband communications. With over 30 years of experience, the company design and manufacture cuttingedge ground segment equipment, and provide comprehensive solutions and end-to-end services, powered by our innovative technology. Their integrated VSAT platforms are built to enable our customers to exploit the full potential of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and Very High Throughput Satellites (VHTS), as well as Non GEO Satellite Orbits (NGSO) constellations and next generation technologies. Their pioneering technologies and high value competitive solutions allow customers to stay ahead of the curve. Gilat’s rich portfolio includes our next generation cloud-based VSAT network platform, high-speed modems, high performance on-the-move antennas and high efficiency, highpower Solid State Amplifiers (SSPA) and Block Upconverters (BUC). Gilat provides thousands of enterprises, service providers and operators with efficient and reliable satellite-based connectivity solutions. Addressing the needs of in-flight connectivity, maritime, land mobility, cellular backhaul, broadband access, enterprise communications, defence and public safety applications, Gilat’s products and solutions are in use in more than 90 countries worldwide. Gilat’s comprehensive solutions support multiple applications with a full portfolio of products to address key applications including broadband access, mobility, cellular backhaul, military, government, and enterprise, all while meeting the most stringent service level requirements.
UVision designs, manufactures and delivers innovative, costeffective, unmanned aerial loitering munition systems for customers worldwide. These lethal solutions meet the requirements of today’s new battlefield doctrines for combat operations in complex, dynamic environments. The company’s solutions are tailored for unique flight qualities, advanced airborne guidance and navigation systems, precision attack munitions and C4 stations fully integrated with communication links.
Built on 30 years of extensive field experience by a professional management and engineering team from both military and aeronautic backgrounds, UVision’s superior loitering solutions encompass end-to-end components and sub-systems – including control, communications, armaments and launch mechanisms – delivering a complete turn-key solution for customers. UVision’s Hero family of systems ranges from miniature tactical to larger operational loitering munitions for air, land and naval platforms. A unique cruciform configuration enables high manoeuvrability that maintains ‘eyes-on target’ and accurate hitting capabilities in constrained battle scenarios – ideal for the battlefield of the future. The company has formed several strategic partnerships with leading defence industries.
BLUEBIRD AERO SYSTEMS
Over the years, BlueBird Aero Systems’ superior tactical UAS products have been the choice of some of the world’s most demanding military customers. BlueBird Aero Systems was established to meet challenges in aerial observation, tracking and reconnaissance faced by the defence, homeland security and civilian sectors. Since 2006, their growing range of superior high-performance micro, mini and Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems have flown tens of thousands of operational sorties worldwide.
BlueBird is a world leader in UAS by combining advanced Israeli technology and military experience with proprietary inhouse design, development and manufacturing. Its comprehensive ISO 9001:2015 certified capabilities include infrastructure, composite materials, mechanical, electronic and aeronautical engineering, as well as software development – all backed-up by unstinting quality assurance. Constant spiral development keeps BlueBird innovative and agile, ready to meet emerging challenges, in all terrains and environmental conditions. Their VTOL systems vastly expand operational capabilities, bringing a new level of flexibility to tactical UAS. In late 2020, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) acquired 50 per cent ownership of BlueBird, creating a strategic partnership.
CONTROP PRECISION TECHNOLOGIES
CONTROP is a privately owned company that specialises in the development and production of EO/IR systems for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting missions for air, land, and maritime applications including Homeland Security, Defence, and more.
The company’s main product lines include high-performance stabilised observation payloads used for day/night surveillance on-board UAS, small UAS and aerostats/balloons, helicopters, light aircraft (A/C), maritime patrol boats, remote weapon stations and ground vehicles; automatic intruderdetection systems for coastal and border surveillance, port/harbour security, the security of sensitive sites, ground-troop security and anti-drone applications; thermal imaging cameras with high-performance continuous zoom lens and state-of-the-art image enhancement features and more.