JERUSALEM — Israel Aerospace Industries has named Boaz Levy, its former vice president for the Systems Missiles and Space Group, as its new CEO.
Levy’s group oversaw major contracts for IAI over the years, including billion-dollar deals in India in 2018. He was also central to the Arrow 3 program, which was developed with U.S. support to intercept high-altitude targets in space, such as ballistic missiles.
In his new position, Levy said he plans to lead the company through the challenges of the future. “IAI has transformed in recent years, but we still have a considerable way to achieve the company’s potential and strengthen our position in existing and new markets,” he said.
Levy’s appointment was approved by the Board of Directors, according to a statement from the company. The search committee chose Levy to replace Nimrod Sheffer after announcing in July he would step down. Sheffer had replaced Joseph Weiss as CEO in 2018, who had been at the helm of the company for six years.
Sheffer came from the strategic planning area of the company and had drafted a new growth strategy for IAI. In March the company said its annual revenue surpassed $4 billion for the first time. That was an increase from $3.6 billion in 2018 and $3.5 billion in 2017.
IAI’s chairman of the board, Harel Locker, praised the unanimous decision to nominate Levy. “Levy has successfully managed the Systems Missiles and Space Group — IAI’s most profitable group that in recent years has made technological and financial groundbreaking achievements. Boaz knows the domestic and international defense market and understands our customer’s needs,” Locker said.
Sheffer officially stepped down on Oct. 31, and Levy’s nomination has been submitted to Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Minister for Cyber and National Digital Matters Dudi Amsalem, who supervise the government’s authority over IAI.
IAI is one of Israel’s three large defense companies along with Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Many of the companies’ capabilities are integrated into key Israeli weapon systems, such as the Iron Dome air defense system, which uses radar made by IAI subsidiary Elta Systems. Similarly, the new Sa’ar-class corvette will combine capabilities from IAI, including a new sea-to-sea missile the company recently tested.
Levy was previously head of IAI’s air defense division between 2010 and 2013. A graduate of Israel’s Technion, he came to IAI in 1990 as an engineer and worked on the Arrow program in the 1990s and 2000s. According to IAI, he “headed the induction of the Arrow-2 into operational service.” He also headed the Barak-8 program, which IAI claims is one of the world’s most advanced air defense systems. The Barak-8 is also a major revenue source for the company.
In 2017, Levy indicated Israel aimed to build future interceptors beyond Arrow 2 and Arrow 3. The Arrow 3 is currently Israel’s top tier in a multilayered air defense system that includes the Iron Dome and David’s Sling, all programs supported by the U.S. More than 20 American states are involved in the production of Arrow 3.
Israel faces increasing threats from Iran and also challenges at sea, which is partly why it has shifted its naval doctrine amid adoption of the new Sa’ar 6 corvettes, and also why it rolled out a new multiyear defense strategy called Momentum. The country has aso begun modernizing training, creating new military units and upgrading communications systems for its armed forces.
Seth J. Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has covered conflict in the Mideast since 2010 for different publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.