VAdm Yedidia Yaari
(Retd), President and CEO
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
Rafael develops and manufactures an array of solutions for army, navy and air force. In an interview with GeoIntelligence, VAdm Yedidia Yaari (Retd), President and CEO, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, tells us why it is one of the leading innovative defence companies of the world
How does Rafael aid in enhancing combat potential?
Rafael’s solutions are known worldwide and are used by various militaries including India, the US, Europe, NATO, several countries in Asia and more. Each of these militaries has its own needs, requirements and challenges, and our solutions to these militaries span from force and armour protection, air defence and air-to-air, naval warfare, C4I, precise tactical munitions, etc. Rafael specialises in development, manufacturing and supports a vast range of air, land and naval systems and technologies including missiles and weapons, electronic warfare and self protection, reconnaissance and intelligence collection, as well as processing systems, analysis and dissemination tools, airborne data-links, communications, command and control and much more. Rafael’s systems are in use on dozens of different platforms, and they have proven successful in a large variety of missions around the world.
Of late, we have seen a number of missile defence systems from Rafael. Can you tell us about them?
Rafael offers a full range of air defence systems to ensure efficient responses against all types of airborne threats including aircraft, helicopters, short-to-long range missiles and rockets. Rafael air defence solutions meet the requirements of army, air force and navy. The systems can be integrated, coordinated and operated by tri-forces to provide comprehensive interoperability and interchangeability. One of Rafael’s flagship products, which has received worldwide recognition and praise, is Iron Dome, an active defence system against short-range missiles and rockets. Since its first deployment in Israel in 2011, the system has already intercepted over 500 rockets and is deployed in key locations around Israel. The system is highly mobile, and is thus easily deployable to protect critical infrastructure sites, civilian areas, and military installations and bases. It is another key element in increasing force survivability as well as maneuverability.
What is the progress on the David’s Sling system that you are developing with Raytheon?
It is currently under development. David’s Sling is an affordable and lethal solution against long-range artillery rockets (LRAR), short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM), cruise missiles (CM) and traditional air defence threats. The system provides optimum protection for the homeland as well as forward deployed forces. At the end of 2012, Rafael conducted its first full interception field test of the David’s Sling missile defence system. The test was successful and the development of the system is progressing according to schedule.
Israel is a strong partner of India vis-à-vis defence sector. Can you tell us about your activities and partners in India? What are your offering to this market and how do you intend to better address local needs and requirements?
Today’s defence markets are shifting from buying complete systems from foreign suppliers (BUY) to locally producing such systems (MAKE) — a trend requiring efficient capability to transfer manufacturing technologies, know-how and monitor quality assurance, all that under complex offset rules which require significant flexibility and resilience to maintain a profitable operation. At Rafael, we maintain cooperation with over 100 international companies that gain significant value from such cooperation. We continue to examine opportunities in the US market, Europe and Asia. We continue to develop our foreign operations and expand our presence in strategic markets, such as India. This is being done either through acquisitions or through JVs or other forms of partnerships. India is a strategic market for Rafael. We are constantly seeking new partnerships and joint ventures with Indian companies for cooperation that will help drive forward our mutual ability to address local needs and operational requirements. We are engaged in joint ventures and partnerships with local Indian industries and are in constant search to expand our activities in the country, in cooperation with the DRDO, in order to better address local needs and requirements. Over the years, Rafael has established subsidiaries in different countries that play an important role in our M&A strategy and marketing activities around the world. We plan to continue making substantial investment in R&D and capitalise on our proven operational success in areas of air defence, active protection for armoured vehicles, critical asset protection and more. This cooperation has proven to be productive and has had a substantial contribution to the development of advanced technologies that have played a significant role in securing the military advantage for both the countries in dealing with a wide variety of threats that they face.
Your company has considerable expertise in delivering sophisticated precision weapons. Can you tell us about your offerings in this sector?
Our strategy has for a long time called for development of precise, proportionate and discriminate systems that allow forces to carry out missions effectively, efficiently and economically. For example, Spike Family is an electro-optic, tactical, precision-guided missile system, which includes the Spike LR — precision missile system for infantry, special forces and light combat vehicles; Spike ER, an extended range tactical missile for helicopters, LCV and naval vessels; and the Spike NLOS multi-purpose, multi-platform electro-optical missile system. The Spike Family is already in use by some 20 customers around the world, and has reached a supply level of over 21,000 missiles. 3,000 have already been fired in combat and in training. In addition, Rafael has developed the SPICE Family, consisting of the SPICE 1000, an air-to-ground autonomous precision guided weapon, capable of overcoming enemy GPS jamming, part of a family of air-to-ground solutions that also includes the SPICE 2000 and 250. SPICE is a stand-off weapon system that hits and destroys targets with pinpoint accuracy and at high attack volumes. It is combat-proven and is in service with the Israeli Air Force and under contract with several international customers.
We see an explosion in the amount of data that is now being generated by ISR assets. In fact, big data analysis is one of the major challenges before security agencies. How is Rafael gearing up for the challenge?
Indeed, recent military, anti-terror and peacekeeping operations have demonstrated that having the right information at the right time is not simply a matter of better sensors, but also depends on immediate access to essential data, and integration of diverse data sources to a unified situation picture including threats, responses and opportunities. Today, most digital imagery collection systems integrate with a specific sensor. Raw data from a single source is processed by an exploitation station. As digital collection assets generally serve as standalone systems, valuable raw data is available locally, but not to interested clients outside the immediate operating cycle. To overcome this limitation, Rafael has come up with IMILITE — a cost-effective intelligence system that receives, processes and exploits multiple standalone imagery video and other intelligence data in a centralised and a unified manner, and disseminates this ISTAR data to networked end-users and clients. IMILITE capabilities include collection and exploitation of E/O, IR, SAR, GMTI and video data in various formats for both real-time and in-depth analysis. The system further combines non-imager GIS data layers, such as targets, threats, COMINT detection and mission status. Its multi-source integration and automation significantly improves the efficiency of available data collection/ exploitation assets. Utilising state-of-the-art image processing algorithms, IMILITE enables efficient collation of all incoming data to a unified intelligence situational awareness picture, significantly shortening the ISR collection and exploitation cycle.
Rafael continues to develop new technologies and mature existing ones. What is the secret behind your success?
The most important resource we have is our innovative human talents. This is the primary resource that has continuously taken Rafael to new heights and exceptional achievements. We continue to offer our customers a variety of systems for air, land and naval warfare. We continuously expand these product families, particularly in air defence, precision weapons and protection systems. The broad technological base that Rafael has, enables us to come up with the required solutions in air superiority, C4ISR, or advanced tactical networking which help our users to effectively defend, or alternatively attack with the necessary precision and exact measured effect they require. Rafael is technology based and always invests a major portion of revenues in R&D.
What are the company’s main growth engines in the near future?
In 2014, we plan to continue make substantial investment in R&D and capitalise on our proven operational success in areas of air defence, active protection for armoured vehicles, critical asset protection and more. One of our main goals is to continue working with our local partners and provide tailor-made, end-to-end solutions, based on solutions already developed, and other solutions we are currently working on. One of our strategies is to position ourselves as a vendor of complete systems rather than separate individual products, all the whilst adapting our solutions to customer’s legacy systems. In the last several months, Rafael has put into place a number of organisational changes, including the establishment of a new land and naval division. Our goal is to better tap into the ever-changing developments that have taken place in the complex land-naval combat environment and to provide our customers with advanced solutions that will serve as an added value and enable them to deal effectively with their specific challenges. We pride ourselves in our superb scientists and engineers, who since Rafael’s establishment, have developed some of the world’s most ground-breaking systems, such as Iron dome, TROPHY, Protector, and many others. These organisational changes will serve us in achieving our plans and goals and in meeting our future challenges.