JERUSALEM — Following its acquisition of IMI Systems in November, Israeli company Elbit Systems has entered “a different category of defense companies,” according to its chief financial officer.
IMI was a government-owned operation with approximately $500 million in revenue, Joseph Gaspar told Defense News. “With the acquisition, it positions us in a totally new and stronger situation in the various markets that we are selling our solutions,” he said, specifically mentioning command-and-control centers.
Gaspar, who is also Elbit’s executive vice president, said the acquisition provides a wholly integrated one-project solution for armored vehicles, for instance, making Elbit a “one-stop shop.”
IMI brings to Elbit know-how in short- and medium-range rockets, precision munitions, and defense systems for armored vehicles.
IMI is not Elbit’s first acquisition. It previously bought Elisra, an electronic warfare company that Elbit helped turn profitable. Gaspar anticipates the same for IMI in 2019. Elbit also acquired Universal Avionics last year, which provides solutions for commercial aircraft.
The combination of the expertise from both Elbit and IMI may prove key for military forces seeking precision munitions that are essential to avoiding collateral damage.
But one challenge post acquisition is that 80 percent of IMI’s revenue comes from the domestic Israeli market, whereas approximately the same percentage of Elbit’s revenue is from international business. Elbit has now restructured itself into five units, so that its Land Division will integrate with IMI’s capabilities; Elbit keep its other units — C4I, ISTAR, electronic warfare and aircraft — separate.
A new production facility will be constructed in southern Israel. As IMI is integrated it will take advantage of Elbit’s scale and procurement.
With 1,700 employees in the U.S., Elbit foresees IMI gaining ground with its Iron Fist light active protection system for the U.S. military’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle. If the system performs well, Elbit anticipates more opportunities for IMI expansion in the U.S. This would complement other Elbit programs such as helmets for F-35 fighter pilots, work on the F-16 and F-18 jets, and an electronic fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Integrated Fixed Tower system meant for border security consists of radar, sensors, cameras and night vision.
“We are also the prime contractor on the IFT, the electronic wall between Arizona and Mexico ... providing towers along the border — and on those towers a lot of sensors, radar, night vision, day vision, and these are coupled to command-and-control centers,” Gaspar explained. "So when they [the customer] detect an intrusion, they analyze it and give guidance to the forces to check it and do what they do.
"We are waiting on the decision on this active issue.”
Seth Frantzman has been covering conflict in the Middle East since 2010 as a researcher, analyst and correspondent for different publications. In recent years he has focused on the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is the executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.