PARIS — In the words of the CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, “the state of Israel comes before anything else.” But leadership among companies in Israel also recognize the potential of export as well as the value of cooperation with the United States on systems development.

Defense News spoke to IAI chief Nimrod Sheffer during the Paris Air Show in June about the latest in air defense development and how the U.S. fits into the long-term equation for expansion.

IAI announced a multi-sensor version of the ELM-2084 air defense radar. Can you provide more details?

The multimission radar has been sold around the world. It’s the best radar of its kind in the world really. The additive qualities and capabilities are the multi-sensor package that we added to that radar.

Past concepts were about having a radar here, a television system here, and it was much more complicated. But now with the multi-sensor radar we’re able really to give the customer the whole suite of products in one. The secret behind it is the integration between whole sensors that could give you the specific point and data about anything you want to know. So an [individual] radar could detect aircraft, but not all the time could they say which type of aircraft is that, what is it carrying, what’s its tail number. So now with the multi-sensor, you can cover a whole spectrum of information that you need to know.

How important is the U.S. to IAI’s growth?

We just changed our operation in the United States last year in 2018, giving IAI North America all the tools it needs to enter the market. We really feel that the American defense market has a great need for IAI products.

The Army just bought two Iron Dome systems, and the heart of Iron Dome is our Elta radar.

A lot of people know how to produce and develop missiles, but the secret here is how to intercept a short-range rocket from the other side. That’s been done with the radar and by the radar.

So I believe that the American authorities or services understand the capacities of the systems — they said: “OK, we need this kind of radar.”

Do you see opportunities with the U.S. expanding?

We have to find a way to say: “OK guys, we understand — this is a radar, and we can make it an American radar with our partners.” The partnership between Israel and the United States military is big enough. That’s one of the main reasons why we have IAI North America — to give us the capability to transfer technology into the United States.

There’s more interest I would say, in Israel technology, especially in the radar scheme, than we see anywhere else from the United States. They can appreciate the capability.

Jill Aitoro was editor of Defense News. She was also executive editor of Sightline Media's Business-to-Government group, including Defense News, C4ISRNET, Federal Times and Fifth Domain. She brought over 15 years’ experience in editing and reporting on defense and federal programs, policy, procurement, and technology.

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