Israeli defence systems supplier Rafael (static park, D50) is keen to build partnerships worldwide, while adding expertise in UAV systems to its established core strength in missiles, says president and chief executive, Yedidia Yaari

Rafael has established itself as a developer of very advanced air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. Are you working on next generation missiles now?

Rafael has more than 60 years of expertise in developing and manufacturing air defence missiles, which are among the most advanced inthe world. These missiles are combat-proven in meeting operational requirements and have won wide spread acclaim.

Keeping pace with changes in combat scenarios and requirements for effective air defence systems has led us to offer an extensive range of technology-based solutions for air-to-air missiles. Rafael is working on the next generation ofair-to-air missiles.

Yedidia Yaari president of Rafael

In recent years you have focused efforts on using air-to-airmissiles for point defence. Are you going to expand that and use your expertise in developing other such systems?

Our vast expertise allows us to presentthe Spyder mobile air defence system, a quick-reaction, low-level surface-to-air missile system designed to effectively counter attacks by aircraft, helicopters UAVs and precision-guided munitions. This system is based on our world-renowned Python 5 and Derby air-to-air missiles.

In addition, Rafael, in partnership with Raytheon, is introducing David's Sling, an efficient solution against long-range artillery missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles. In addition, Iron Dome is being developed to counter short-range rockets and artillery shells with ranges up to 70 km.

You have been commissioned to develop two tiers of Israel's defence against rockets. Do you see an export market for these systems?

Undoubtedly, the evolving changes that you have indicated, spur the development of air defence systems of various types to counter today's diverse threats. New products and capabilities attract much interest, together with considerable marketing potential, which we are just beginning to take advantage of as part of the expansion of new projects

Your anti-tank missiles have been purchased by many countries. Some have selected them for use on helicopters. What is the potential of that market worldwide?

Rafael offers its customers the Spike Family of multi-purpose, tactical missiles for infantry, combat vehicles, helicopters, and naval vessels, suited for multiple ranges and a variety of targets. Spike missiles have sophisticated electro-optic CCD or IR sensors for operation day and nightand in adverse weather conditions and a tandem warhead.

Due to the success of the Spike Family missiles in combat operations, Rafael, incooperation with partners abroad, supplies various countries with the well-received Spike products. Unquestionably, the Spike-ER's advancedcapabilities give a clear cut advantage to helicopters by providing pinpoint precision target hits with minimum collateral damage from stand off rangewhile protecting the platform.

Have you scaled down your presence in this year's Paris airshow as a result of the crisis?

The global economic crisis raises uncertainties that can't be ignored. However, the defence industry's production and marketing have demonstrated reasonable stability.

Rafael completed fiscal year 2008 withan impressive order backlog that guarantees stability, although, withoutdoubt, the crisis will cause repercussions in our business sphere which aredifficult to evaluate today.

What are your expectations from this show?

Exhibitions, in particular the Paris air show, provide a valuableopportunity, from our point of view, for Rafael to present the company'swide range of technologies and capabilities and to meet with our partnersand customers. Our participation in this year's 100th anniversary of theParis air show is an excellent opportunity for this

What are Rafael's main growth engines in the coming years ?

The chief lever for Rafael's growth is definitely the skilled, dedicated workforce that enables the company to offer customers leading-edgeproducts and capabilities using the most advanced technologies.

Rafael's substantial investment in research and development, coupled with ourability to meet customers' specific design requirements, allows us to offer adiverse array of products in numerous areas, such as air defence, navigation and targeting, precision weapons, various types of armour, and more.

Ourquality and diversity has allowed us to complete 2008 and begin 2009 in avery positive way with excellent growth potential for the coming years.

As a state-owned company, can you expand through acquisitions and joint ventures?

Yes, certainly. We have seen that, over the years, the defence industry worldwide has moved toward joint ventures and cooperative agreements.This can be attributed to several factors: easing competition, maximising advantages, reducing costs, and using local companies to penetrate newmarkets.

A central part of our current marketing-financial strategy relates to mergers and acquisitions, and one example to note is the setting up of a company inthe US, and we are in the process of setting up a company in India as well,among other things.

Rafael identified this trend some years ago and has created partnershipswith companies in Israel and with leading aerospace and defence companies overseas. Offset activities and industrial cooperation have been organised with more than 20 countries worldwide. During the past decade, international business activities have been steadily expanding across the globe, with Rafael acting as either prime contractor or subcontractor,c apitalising on its strength at both system and subsystem levels

Your efforts to compete in the saturated Israeli UAV market have encountered considerable hurdles. Are you going to stay in this market?

Rafael definitely intends to pursue involvement in UAVs,especially by means of partnerships, based on the company's variety of systems designed for UAV platforms.

In fact, Rafael is introducing Recce-U for the first time at the Paris air show. Recce-U is one of our reconnaissance, navigation and targeting pod products, which include Litening and RecceLite, and is intended for installation on UAVs.

Source: Flight Daily News