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Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.
Type Government-owned corporation
Traded as Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE): ARSP.B1
Industry Aerospace, defence
Predecessor(s) Bedek Aviation Company
Founded 1953
Founder(s) Al Schwimmer
Shimon Peres
Headquarters Lod, Israel
Products Civil and military aerospace
Business jets
Defence electronics
Naval vessels
Services Aircraft maintenance
Aircraft upgrade
Revenue Increase$3.44 billion US$ (FY 2011)
Operating income Increase$518 million US$ (FY 2011)
Net income Increase$133 million US$ (FY 2011)
Employees 16,000
Divisions Bedek Aviation Group
Commercial Aircraft Group
Military Aircraft Group
Systems, Missiles & Space Group
Subsidiaries ELTA Systems LTD

Israel Aerospace Industries (Hebrew: התעשייה האווירית לישראל ha-ta'asiya ha-avirit le-yisra'el) or IAI (תע"א ta`a') is Israel's prime aerospace and aviation manufacturer, producing aerial systems for both military and civilian usage. It has 16,000 employees as of 2007. IAI is wholly owned by the government of Israel.

In addition to local construction of fighter aircraft, IAI also designs and builds civil aircraft (including for Gulfstream with aircraft such as the G100/G150 and G200/G250 mid-sized business jets) and performs local maintenance and reconfiguration of foreign-built military and civilian aircraft. In addition, the company works on a number of missile, avionics, and space-based systems.

Although IAI's main focus is aviation and high-tech electronics, it also manufactures military systems for ground and naval forces. Many of these products are specially suited for the Israel Defense Forces needs, while others are also marketed to foreign militaries.


Al Schwimmer

Israel Aerospace Industries was founded in 1953 as Bedek Aviation Company under the initiative of Shimon Peres, then Director general of the Ministry of Defense, in order to maintain Israel Defense Forces (IDF) aircraft'.[1] The company originally had 70 employees and recruited American born aviation expert Al Schwimmer as the company's founder and first president.[2]

First aircraft manufacturing

IAI Tzukit of the IAF Aerobatic Team (2007)

In 1959 Bedek began manufacturing its first aircraft, a V-tailed twinjet trainer of French design, the Fouga Magister, locally called Tzukit (Monticola). The Tzukit became the Israeli Air Force principal trainer for 50 years. The IAI Tzukit was also used in the 1967 Six Day War by 147 Squadron as a close support aircraft, attacking targets on the Egyptian front during the first day of the war, when Israel's more capable combat aircraft were deployed on Operation Focus against Arab air bases.[3] They were then deployed against Jordanian forces, including armour, on the West Bank. The Magister proved effective at the close-support mission albeit with heavy casualties, with six being lost.[4]

The first aircraft to be fully designed and built by IAI, the IAI Arava STOL (short take-off and landing) transport aircraft, first flew in 1969 after three years of development.[5]

The French embargo impact

IAI Kfir

In response to the French embargo, IAI began developing its own fighter aircraft, a derivative of the Mirage 5 called the IAI Nesher ("eagle"), in 1968. The Nesher entered service in 1971, in time for the Yom Kippur War. The Nesher was followed by the IAI Kfir ("lion cub"), which was developed as a result of Israel's need for adapting the Dassault Mirage III to the specific requirements of the Israeli Air Force. The Kfir entered service with the IAF in 1975, the first units being assigned to the 101st "First Fighter" Squadron. Over the following years, several other squadrons were also equipped with the new aircraft. The Kfir's first recorded combat action took place on 9 November 1977, during an Israeli air strike on a training camp at Tel Azia, in Lebanon. The only air victory claimed by a Kfir during its service with the IAF occurred on 27 June 1979 when a Kfir C.2 shot down a Syrian MiG-21.[5]

The IAI Kfir has been exported to Colombia, Ecuador, Sri Lanka and was leased to the US Navy and the US Marine Corps from 1985 to 1989, to act as adversary aircraft in dissimilar air combat training (DACT).[6]


IAI Gabriel

In 1969 IAI acquired North American Rockwell's Jet Commander series of business aircraft. This became the basis for the IAI Westwind line. Work on an improved Westwind the Astra, by stretching the fuselage and designing a new swept wing, began in the late 1970s,[7] with the first prototype flight on 19 March 1984.[8] The first production Astra flew on 20 March 1985, FAA certification came on 29 August 1985 and customer deliveries started in 1986.[8]

In the 1960s, IAI developed the Gabriel anti-ship missile and the Elta Electronics Industries subsidiary developed an inexpensive aircraft radar which would become a successful export item. In the 1970s IAI developed the Dabur class patrol boat[5]

In the 1970s IAI also entered the Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market with the development of the IAI Scout. In 1984, IAI formed a joint venture with rival Israeli company Tadiran to market both companies' UAV's, the Tadiran Mastiff and the IAI Scout.[9]

Developing the maintenance, repair and overhaul business

By 1980's the original Bedek maintenance business was conducting extensive overhauls on dozens of different aircraft types, working on engines as well as airframes and interiors, IAI could provide more comprehensive refurbishments than even the aircraft manufacturers themselves. The unit had 4,000 employees by the mid-1980s and overhauled a huge range of aircraft, from propeller-driven trainers to airliners; including big civil aviation programs, such as conversion of Boeing 747s to freighters.[10]

The Lavi Program

IAI Lavi

In 1980 the Government of Israel took the decision to use the experience IAI had accumulated to develop and manufacture a modern fighter plane to be the mainstay of the Israel Air Force. The aircraft, called the IAI Lavi ("young lion"), was to be a superior attack aircraft with advanced weapons systems. It had its rollout in July 1986 and successful maiden flight in December 1986.[11]

In August 1987, after extensive government deliberations, the decision was made (by one vote) to cancel the Lavi program, due to the questioning of Israel's economic ability to support the cost of such an extensive program.[12] This led to a serious crisis at IAI which necessitated a major reorganization of the company's structure and business strategy; the company's work force of more than 22,000 people, was cut by 5,500 in 1988 . However, the Lavi program was credited with developing a number of advanced technologies that IAI was able to market.[11]

1990's onwards - Export led growth

The Avocet ProJet with IAI Logo

By 1989 IAI posted a profit of $11.8 million on sales of $1.28 billion. The company had four divisions—Aircraft, Aviation, Electronics, and Technologies—and 17 factories. IAI was established as a world leader in upgrading aircraft. Planes such as the Vietnam-era McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II were modernized with advanced avionics and weaponry to keep them from obsolescence.

In 1990's IAI entered the space race with the AMOS communications satellites and Ofeq observation satellites.[11]

In December 1997, the IAI Galaxy, a business jet with an intercontinental range developed as a joint venture Galaxy Aerospace with the Hyatt Corporation, made its first flight and entered service in 2000. In May 2001, General Dynamic's Gulfstream Aerospace bought IAI's Galaxy Aerospace Co. L.P. unit for $330 million.[13]

In 2003, Israel Aircraft Industries attempted to enter the VLJ (very light jet) Market by launching the Avocet ProJet, a 6-8 seat high utilization air taxi with a list price almost half the cost of the least expensive business jet available at that time. In early 2006, ProJet development stalled after a major undisclosed US OEM pulled out of the program due to unspecified reasons.[14]

The company was working with the Aviation Technology Group on a military trainer version of the ATG Javelin, a fighter style personal jet. The version being developed would have compete against a large field of jet trainers at a much lower cost of acquisition and maintenance. ATG halted development of the Javelin in 2008 due to a lack of funds.

In March 2004 IAI signed a $1.1 billion contract with India to install three Phalcon AWACS planes, using radars modified from the Lavi program on Russian-made Ilyushin Il-76 transports.[15]

On 6 November 2006, IAI changed its corporate name from "Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd." to "Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd."; to more accurately reflect the current scope of the firm's business activities, which includes not just aircraft, but also systems, satellites and launchers, as well as maritime and ground systems.

On 13 April 2009, the Moscow Times reported that the Russian Defense Ministry had signed an agreement with Israel Aerospace to purchase $50 million in pilotless drone aircraft. The contract reportedly includes three types of UAVs manufactured by the company.[16]

In January 2012, IAI announced a sale of $1.1 billion of defense systems to an Asian country. The deal has been signed but the company did not name the buyer. It was reported that the sale will include IAI aircraft, missiles and intelligence technologies.[17] Transparency International has rated IAI as one of the least diligent companies in the fight against corruption and bribery.[18]

On 4 September 2012, the Gulfstream G280, a new twin-engine business jet built by IAI, received full certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).[19]


Civilian Aircraft

  • Arava - Medium sized STOL transport aircraft (no longer in production)
  • Westwind - Business jet (no longer in production)
  • Astra/Galaxy - Business jets (now produced for Gulfstream Aerospace as the G100/G200)
  • IAI Avocet ProJet - Revolutionary Very Light Jet [1] (program cancelled)

Civilian Air Systems

Military Aircraft

  • 377M Anak - conversions done to several ex-Pan American World Airways Boeing 377 Stratocruiser airliners in to heavy lift military cargo aircraft after the United States refused the sale of the C-130 to the Israeli Air Force.[21]
  • Lavi - an Israeli fighter jet, abandoned when the United States refused to fund a F-16 competitor.[22]
  • Kfir - fighter jet.
  • Nammer - fighter jet, updated version of the Kfir.
  • Nesher - fighter jet, derivative of the French Mirage 5.
  • ELTA-ELI-3001 - AISIS - Airborne Integrated SIGINT System.
  • CAEW Conformal Airborne Early Warning Aircraft - based on the G550 and equipped with the phalcon radar.

Unmanned Aerial Vechicles

Military Air Systems

Ground defense systems

Ground transportation

  • Assembly of IC3 diesel multiple unit trains and double-decker railway coaches under license from Bombardier Transportation
  • Taxibot, semi-robotic towbarless pushback tractor.[24][25]

Naval Systems

Missile Systems

  • Arrow - Anti-ballistic missile systmem
  • Arrow 3 - Anti-ballistic missile system
  • Barak 1 - Surface-to-air missile.
  • Barak 8 - Surface-to-air missile (jointly developed with DRDO of India.
  • Gabriel - Air-to-surface, surface-to-surface anti-ship missile.
  • Iron Dome - mobile all-weather air-defence system.
  • LAHAT - Anti-tank missile.
  • LORA
  • Nimrod - Air-to-surface, surface-to-surface missile.

Space Hardware

  • EROS, Amos and Ofeq Satellite series
  • RISAT-2 satellite
  • Shavit space launcher
  • Middle East Newsline has reported that IAI will launch one or more CubeSats by the end of 2008.[26]
  • TecSAR reconnaissance satellite, launched on 21 January 2008[27]

Manufacturing plants

official org-chart (2 January 2007)
  • Systems, Missiles & Space Group
    • Malam - integration
    • Mabat - missiles and satellites
    • Tamam - inertial guidance and electro-optic systems
  • Military Aircraft Group
    • Lahav - aircraft upgrades
    • Mata - helicopter upgrades
    • Golan Industries - crash survival seats and other aircraft parts
    • Malat - Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • Elta - Radars, electronic warfare and ELINT
  • Bedek Aviation Group - MRO
    • Aircraft Division - Conversion of passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft, heavy aircraft maintenance, Fleet Maintenance
    • Engines Division - Repair and overhaul of civil and military aircraft engines (P&W, GE)
    • Components Division - Repair and overhaul of civil and military aircraft components (APU, Landing Gear, CSD etc.).
  • Commercial Aircraft Group
    • Ramta - railcars, patrol boats, armor kits for engineering vehicles etc.
    • Aerostructures -
      • Shahal - landing gear and other aircraft parts
    • Technologies -
    • Business Jets -
  • Engineering Division - aircraft manufacturing and integration
    • Maman - IT Services. mainly implementing and maintaining ERP/SAP Package.

See also


  1. Shimon Peres - Profile, Defense News
  2. Al Schwimmer, founder of Israel Aircraft Industries, dies at 94 Haaretz, 11.06.11
  3. Aloni 2001, p.44.
  4. Aloni 2001, pp. 49–51, 54–55.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. - Company History". 
  6. IAI will lease Kfir aircraft to US Air Force, Navy - Globes; 18 June 2003
  7. Relman 1993, p. 314.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Relman 1993, p. 316.
  9. "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles" by Greg Goebel
  10. IAI-Bedek Aviation Group Presentation
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Arens, Moshe (05.08.04). "The Arrow, the Ofeq reconnaissance satellite, and the Lavi fighter are the three great Israeli technological projects in the past 25 years". 
  12. ""התעשייה האווירית לישראל" לביא". Israeli Air Force Site. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  13. Israel IAI-1126 Galaxy/Gulfstream G200.
  14. Aviation International News, September 2003
  15. Indian AWACS Moving Forward on 2 Fronts Defense Industry Daily, 8 June 2011
  16. Combined Dispatches, "Red-Faced Military Buys Israeli Drones", Moscow Times, 13 April 2009.
  17. Israel Aerospace sells $1.1 billion in arms to Asian nation
  18. Coren, Ora. "Watchdog: Israeli defense firms don't root out rot." Haaretz Newspaper, 4 October 2012.
  19. Sarsfield, Kate "Israel and USA grant full certification for Gulfstream G280". Flight International, September 4, 2012.
  20. "IAI/Elta's "Flight Guard" Commercial Aircraft Protection System Funded". Israeli Aerospace Industries. 8 September 2003. 
  21. - Anak(Boeing 377) Retrieved 8/28/11
  22. The United States and the LAVI, Airpower Journal Vol. IV, No. 3, (Fall 1990): 34-44, Lt Col James P. DeLoughry, USAF
  23. JUMPER
  24. "New IAI "taxibot" to save airlines billions". Globes. Globes. 3 February 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  25. "TAXIBOT SYSTEM". Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  26. "ISRAEL PLANS NANO-SATELLITE LAUNCH". Middle East Newsline. 
  27. Tran, Mark (21 January 2008). "Israel launches new satellite to spy on Iran". Guardian Unlimited. London.,,2244324,00.html. Retrieved 22 January 2008. 
  • Relman, Paul (December 1993). "IAI Astra: Israel's star-struck biz jet". pp. pp. 313–319. ISSN 0306-5634. 

External links


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