JERUSALEM — Israel Aerospace Industries CEO Nimrod Sheffer announced July 1 that he is stepping down after two years in the position.
Sheffer replaced Joseph Weiss as CEO in June 2018 and will leave after training a successor, the company said. His predecessor was CEO for six years and left at retirement age.
Sheffer came to IAI as vice president of strategic planning after retiring from 36 years of military service in 2018. A former combat pilot, he was head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Planning Directorate.
“During his term as IAI CEO Sheffer has introduced a series of reforms and transformations and has drafted a growth strategy and a business plan which yielded excellent business results for IAI in the past six quarters,” the company said in a statement.
In his announcement, Sheffer thanked IAI employees and executives for their trust and cooperation.
Sheffer championed IAI’s multimission radar made by its subsidiary Elta Systems, which he called “the best radar of its kind in the world” in an interview with Defense News in August.
He also emphasized the potential of the North American market. Elta makes the ELM-2084 radar, known for its use with Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, two of which the U.S. Army has acquired. Elta has also teamed with American company Lockheed Martin for radar demonstrations.
In a government-to-government deal, Israel sold the ELM-2084 radar to the Czech Republic in December 2019. IAI also signed several large deals in India in 2018 under Sheffer’s tenure, selling its Barak 8 and long-range surface-to-air missile systems.
IAI is Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company, one of three major defense firms in the country. After a record year in 2017 of $5.5 billion in revenue, IAI’s revenue dropped to $3.6 billion in 2018, but rose to $4.1 billion in 2019.
Most recently, the company has focused on new contracts for special mission aircraft, testing of a long-range attack ballistic missile, and new innovations in UAV and counter-UAV technology.
Sheffer opened a new innovation center in Tel Aviv in December 2019 aimed at cultivating Israel’s startups, part of a strategy to encourage entrepreneurship, he said at the time.
Israel’s defense industry is under strain from the coronavirus pandemic and reports indicate IAI is laying off 900 employees from its aviation group. The company suffered financial losses in 2018 due to what Sheffer said were nonrecurring events, according to statements in Israel’s Globes media.
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.