From main battle tank to aircraft landing gear

When you say Ashot Ashkelon in Israel, people immediately think of the heavy mechanical systems that can be found in Israel’s advanced main battle tank.

But that has changed. When you tour the plant, the new production facilities – with their smooth shining floors and the top-notch metal processing machines – tell part of the story of change.

The full story is dramatic. Ashot – a subsidiary of state-owned Israel Military Industries (IMI) has been in the aerospace business for years. It has supplied counterweights and high-lift systems for aircraft stabilisers and flaps and main subsystems for landing gear.

These production lines still operate, but the company is now in the midst of revolution. The fact that major aircraft manufacturers have long selected the Israeli company as sole supplier for critical systems like high lifters for advanced aircraft was a driver for the next step being made now. The footprint of the company can be found in most advanced aircraft.

According to Yaron Gilboa, Ashot vice-president marketing & business development, the revolution can be summarised as going from built-to-print contracts to build-to-specs ones: “The client defines the requirements and we design the systems and manufacture it”

Ashot has moved  fast into the self-design part of the business, and one result is a zero-maintenance U-booted joint for high-lift systems that operate the flaps of different types of aircraft.

Moreover, this achievement is only one point in a  detailed planned road to the big leagues. Gilboa revealed that Ashot is in the process of preliminary design for complete landing gear for business jets, based on the company’s vast experience. This part of the business is familiar, as the company currently supplies subsystems for the landing gear of leading business jets.

Another effort has been made to manufacture and participate in concurrent engineering of jet engine shafts.

The new development effort and production lines called for increased capacity, and expanded Ashot’s business to the USA through acquiring Reliance gear corp, located in Addison, Illinois. This move expanded manufacturing capacity and brought the company closer to its customers.

There is almost no doubt that in coming years Ashot will make the full transition from manufacturing systems someone else designed to a full design, development and production process that will bring the products to leading aircraft manufacturers.

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