WASHINGTON — The head of Israel Aerospace Industries is stepping down after nearly six years at the post.

Joseph Weiss became president and CEO of IAI in 2012, and he notably increased the number of new contracts signed across the globe to $5.5 billion in contracts in the past year and helped the company reach an order backlog of more than $11 billion, according to the release.

“I end my term as the CEO of Israel’s largest defense company, which is also the country’s largest high tech company, in a year which is one of the most successful and turbulent in its history,” Weiss said in the release.

IAI is the largest company in Israel, as a leading manufacturer of drones, fighter aircraft, missile, avionics and space-based systems. The company also has a healthy commercial aviation business, which Weiss has sought to grow in the last couple of years in an effort to better balance the portfolio. He also spoke quite candidly about IAI’s structure of government ownership — telling Defense News in 2016 that it brought both opportunities and challenges.

The executive’s tenure was not without its hurdles. Weiss was in the news recently when the Trump administration upheld a visa denial that temporarily banned Weiss from entering the United States.

As a matter of policy, the U.S. government does not explain reasons for visa denials. “They gave no reason, no connotations that it had anything to do with the security of the United States. Just declined,” Weiss told Defense News in an interview.

Also during his tenure, 13 suspects associated with the company were arrested for alleged offenses ranging from fraud, money laundering and breach of trust to outright theft. At the time, police said the suspects included those “who were supposed to be guardians of the public trust, advisers, suppliers and service providers to IAI.”

“It is with great pride and satisfaction that I hand over the helm to the next generation of talented managers,” Weiss said in the release. “I am confident they will take IAI even farther, preserve and grow its huge contribution to Israel’s security and economy.”

He has promised to stay with the company until his replacement is appointed.

Barbara Opall-Rome contributed to this report.

Chris Martin is the managing editor for Defense News. His interests include Sino-U.S. affairs, cybersecurity, foreign policy and his yorkie Willow.

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