Big Plans: Israel Aerospace Industries plans to unveil the Green Rock, a mobile, autonomous force-protecting radar, at the Eurosatory trade show in Paris. (Israel Aerospace Industries illustration)
TEL AVIV — Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is targeting the global land warfare market with expanded investment in research and development and a growing portfolio aimed at trebling annual turnover by the end of the decade.
Executives here project land sector sales to surge from current modest levels of some $300 million per year to as much as $600 million by 2017.
By the end of the decade, they expect annual turnover to grow to $1 billion, more than 20 percent of the $3.6 billion in sales reported by the state-owned firm at the end of last year.
“It’s part of our strategy of leveraging precision-strike, high-resolution imaging, intelligence collection, unmanned systems and communications capabilities developed for the air and space markets and tailoring them for the evolving needs of land warriors,” said Eyal Ben-Reuven, a retired Israeli Army major general recruited to coordinate IAI’s new Land Systems sector.
As a young soldier in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Ben-Reuven was only one of two survivors of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) armored platoon decimated by Egyptian tanks.
It was a formative experience in a 35-year military career that included two wars in Lebanon, a stint at the US Army’s Carlisle War College, command of the IDF’s first digitized division, head of the IDF Ground Forces Command and commandant of Israel’s military colleges.
“As a ground guy, I understand the importance of combined war capabilities demanded by counterinsurgency and urban battles,” Ben-Reuven told Defense News.
“We no longer have the luxury of force-on-force, tank-on-tank battles; we must prepare for dynamic operations that require a networked melding of air, land, sea and space domains.”
Ben-Reuven said the new Land Systems organization he heads will work in “full coordination” with other IAI divisions to maximize companywide capabilities for armies and special operations forces.
“IAI is grabbing this land business with both hands,” he said.
IAI now considers the land warfare market a strategic objective, said CEO Joseph Weiss. “IAI is intensifying its activities in the land warfare market.”
The new organization will consist of: intelligence gathering; area dominance systems, including advanced radars and UAVs; land-based precision strike; and tracking radars in support of maneuvering forces and secure communications, including a fourth-generation, wideband data smartphone the company claims serves as a “cellular cloud” for forces on the move.
One of the new systems IAI will present at the Eurosatory exhibition in Paris this week is Green Rock, a mobile, autonomous force-protecting radar for detecting and targeting rocket, artillery and mortar threats.
Now in early stages of deployment with the IDF, the vehicle-mounted radar — known in Hebrew as Wind Shield — acquires and tracks threats, calculates their precise launching point and predicts where they are expected to impact.
When integrated into a C4I network — as it is in Israel via the Elbit-produced Digital Army program — the system transmits targeting data to connected shooters for closed-loop operations.
Brig. Gen. Roy Riftin, IDF chief artillery officer, recently said the IAI Wind Shield, produced by the firm’s Elta subsidiary, is a top procurement priority. In Israel, the tactical phased-array pulse Doppler radar will be co-located with Keshet, an autonomous recoil mortar system by Elbit Systems.
Another top, yet still unfunded procurement priority is a new gun to replace Israel’s 50-year-old M109 howitzers that the IDF intends to integrate on the Lockheed Martin-built M270 multiple launch rocket system chassis.
Riftin said IDF requirements call for a fully autonomous, 52-caliber cannon capable of firing 155mm projectiles at five rounds per minute with all shells impacting designated targets at the same time.
IAI has partnered with state-owned Israel Military Industries and Munich-based Krauss-Maffei Wegmann to optimize the German artillery gun module for IDF requirements, Ben-Reuven said. Its competitor for more than $1 billion in prospective multiyear orders is Elbit Systems.
“We’ll be ready to fight with all our might for this program, the minute it is approved by the IDF,” he said.
Boaz Cohen, his competitor and counterpart at Elbit’s Land Systems and C4I Division, expressed similar resolve to win rights to the program. In a recent interview, he noted that Elbit would use legacy production know-how and proven combat capabilities provided by its 2010 acquisition of Soltam Systems.
“As the only gun manufacturer in Israel, we have all the essential building blocks in place. We have the auto loader, the gun, breech, elevation system, electronic system and, of course, the requisite C4I to meet IDF requirements,” Cohen said. ■