TEL AVIV, Israel ― After nearly a decade of business development and more than a year in legal appeals, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries is finally set to begin supplying its TopGun precision guidance kit to the Israeli Army.
IAI’s add-on kit, which converts standard 15mm artillery shells into precision munitions, was first proposed to Israel’s Ground Forces Command nearly a decade ago. It was selected in early 2016 over the Silver Bullet, a competing system by Rokar, a Jerusalem-based subsidiary of BAE Systems, which contested the IAI win.
The matter has been the subject of legal appeals ever since; up until Monday, IAI had refused comment on its win.
In an Oct. 9 announcement, IAI said it has been issued an award by Israel’s Ministry of Defense to develop, produce and supply its TopGun course correction fuze for artillery shells. It noted that the award by the ministry’s Defense Research and Development Directorate “is meant to provide the [Israel Defense Forces] with a global, first-of-its-kind development of this fuze.”
Neither IAI nor the Defense Ministry cited a value for the contract. However, defense and industry sources estimate that Israeli awards could exceed $100 million over the next decade, with many more hundreds of millions anticipated in export sales.
According to the IAI release, the firm’s TopGun “is highly relevant for future warfare arenas, both in Israel and globally. It allows expanding the task range allocated to artillery and faster, more efficient performance of artillery assignments.”
IAI has touted TopGun as being capable of accurately calculating its location in space and planning the optimal course required for the shell to engage with the predefined target. In its Oct. 9 announcement, the firm noted that it would be displaying TopGun at this week’s annual meeting and exhibition in Washington hosted by the Association of the United States Army.
Jacob Galifat, general manager of IAI’s MALAM Division, forecast “extensive” global demand for the system and said the firm intended to translate the ministry’s award into “business success in multiple markets worldwide.”