RAFAEL President outlines his view of the company way forward

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VADM (Ret.) Yedidia Yaari, President and CEO of Rafael
VADM (Ret.) Yedidia Yaari, President and CEO of Rafael

RAFAEL offers a wide range of leading edge solutions, from defensive measures for submarines and surface vessels, through land systems to airborne and space-based systems. Since it transformed from an MOD operated unit into a commercial company RAFAEL has grown its domestic and export, reporting $1.852 million in sales in 2010, representing15 percent growth over 2009. Furthermore, at 4.3 percent RAFAEL’s operating profit and $301,000 in sales per employee, RAFAEL demonstrated the highest performance among Israel’s government owned defense companies.

Defense Update asked VADM (Ret.) Yedidia Yaari, President and CEO of Rafael, what makes RAFAEL successful?

Yaari: “Maintaining its original role as Israel’s leading defense technology development center RAFAEL is also a growing and profitable company, active in the global market. This unique position enables us to offer our customers with full solutions, addressing urgent requirements in a short time.”

Defense Update: How do you see RAFAEL’s way forward in international markets?

Yaari: “We invest significant resources and marketing effort in developing our international activity to increase the share of export, establishing new partnerships, acquisition of foreign companies and opening new markets.

One of RAFAEL’s strengths is its proven ability to cooperate, transfer knowhow and technology and meet foreign offset requirements. We do it in many countries, in different programs – one such example is the local production of Spike missiles overseas, in countries such as Spain and Poland. Through such cooperative programs RAFAEL leverages its technological knowhow and superior weapon system to gain new markets.

Considering itself as ‘team player’, RAFAEL implements cooperation in many areas, with tens of partners from many countries, enabling us to achieve significant achievements in the international market. RAFAEL pursue the strategy of establishing joint ventures and local partnerships for many years and the trend is growing as our foreign markets transform from BUY to MAKE, where relying on local enterprises enables you to transfer technology, know how and local production. “In the upcoming months we expect to see new developments in this area, both domestically and overseas.”

Defense Update: What about mergers in your domestic market, IMI for example?

Yaari: “We have always said that the most logical and efficient way forward is to integrate IMI with RAFAEL, to benefit of the synergy of the two companies and utilize existing infrastructures. Nevertheless, since RAFAEL moved a long way since being an MOD unit and the last thing we want is an acquisition or merger that will risk RAFAEL’s financial stability.” I hope those responsible for this process will enable RAFAEL to perform a fair due diligence to enable both sides to take the right decision that will serve both sides.

RAFAEL seems to have less issues with being a government owned company. Why?

Yaari: Since RAFEAL began its way as an MOD unit, our current status as a government owned company offers us much flexibility and operational freedom than before. We went a long way with the government officials in establishing speedy processes enabling us to pursue our business plans.

Defense Update: Two of RAFAEL’s combat systems were successfully tested in battle this year, Could you describe how these development processes evolved?

Yaari: “RAFAEL invests significant resources in research and development, at levels unmatched by other business corporations. This investment, the close relations wit our strategic customers, being the national defense development lab and highly skilled workforce enables RAFAEL to pioneer many fields. Our developments follow the five-year plans we have set and re-examine periodically, addressing multi-year plans of our customers, setting the requirements for the systems we develop.

This year, two of our weapon systems were proven successful in combat, marking a world breakthrough in active defense – the Trophy active protection system for armored vehicles and Iron Dome, countering ballistic rockets. Both were developed by some of our best tears and both are on display here at the Paris Air-Show.