This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
Following last week’s AUS&R 2014 UAV convention (November 25-26 2014), the iHLS news desk has asked Shaul Shahar, IAI VP and General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group, about the themes raised at the convention, which has proven highly successful, complete with worldwide response.
Q. 1: What is the share of IAI’s (Israel Aerospace Industries) overall activity, and what is the outlook for the coming years?
A: The UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) field is one of IAI’s growth engines and a core sector for the entire company. There is no doubt is will continue to be so.
Q. 2: Is IAI planning to penetrate into the European UAV market the same way it secured a foothold in the US market by establishing its subsidiary, STARK?
A: We are placing our emphasis on collaborations with local European companies, in accordance with the type of deal, bid and opportunity. We believe this is the right model to follow in Europe, where the requirements for UAV is highly diverse.
Q. 3: In your opinion, do there really need to be so many UAV manufacturers in Israel, given the intensifying competition in this sector worldwide?
A: The UAV market has been growing steadily in Israel and worldwide. UAVs have become an integral part of theaters of operation, border patrol missions and so on. Demand is exploding, as they are also being used for various civilian and paramilitary missions.
There is nothing wrong with competition, as long as it is fair and respectable. Competition fosters constant innovation and improvements in the performance and capabilities of UAVs by the developers for their various clients.
Q. 4: While we’re on the subject, given increasing competition worldwide all across the board, could IAI retain its position a world leader in this field?
A: IAI has been leading the market with a wide variety of products and will continue to do so. We are constantly working on the development of new capabilities in accordance with our client’s operational requirements. I have no doubt we will continue with this trend.
Our UAVs have accumulated a total of over 1.25 million operation flight hours, over 50 clients worldwide. Our reputation speaks for itself. We have been relying on diverse proven know-how, technology and vast operational experience, in addition to many years of myriad working relations with our clients worldwide.
Q. 5: To what extent do political considerations impact the acquisition of Israeli-made UAVs by various countries worldwide (namely, Western and Easter Europe and the Far East)?
A: As a commercial company, we make sure we are only concerned with business considerations, and by them alone. As a defense company, we are of course bound by the export permits we are issued by the Israeli ministry of defense, and we act accordingly. Beyond these restrictions, when our clients choose us as a UAV provider, they have done so per their own professional guidelines.