Interview With Gideon Weiss – VP International Business Development
MON had the opportunity during FEINDEF 2021 in Madrid last week for a rapid Exchange of views with Gideon Weiss, VP International Business Development at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
MON: Where are the major challenges facing Rafael at the moment? What are your predictions for where sustainable growth will come from?
GW: The past two years required Rafael to react to new realities, in adjusting our business practices. This allowed the company to retain its valuable workforce, while continuing to develop its cutting-edge technologies and delivering to customers and partners. The most important take-aways are that we need to listen to our customers to understand their evolving needs, while working with them in making their programmes independent and sovereign. Rafael believes that this ability – to adapt and adjust – is in line with its DNA, and will help its continued growth. Rafael maintains numerous core vectors of Business, which provide a solid baseline, and the growth will come from certain evolving markets.
MON: What flagship products within your portfolio will continue to attract volume business?
GW: Rafael’s strength is embodied in three main elements: cutting-edge technologies applied in combat-proven systems; continued, multidisciplinary innovation and R&D investments; our people, their values and their ability to connect with our customers and add value for them.
Over the past two years, Rafael has entered two new realms: small autonomous UAS and the area of micro and nano satellites. With its existing capabilities in air, land and sea solutions, the company continues to sustain fielded systems, launch new products and offer valuable upgrades to evolving needs.
In terms of ‘flagship’ products, consider the IRON DOME system, TROPHY active protection system, SPIKE family of tactical missiles, SPICE air-surface systems and the LITENING pod. Recently, the SPYDER air defence system has won significant new international orders, while both advanced AI-driven insights and ‘Big Data’ solutions are making giant leaps in the evolving multi-dimensional battlespace.
MON: How do you see the market evolving for RWS – is there interest in new-build vehicles as well as modernisation requirements to be satisfied?
GW: Certainly, the RWS market is alive, and one in which Rafael continues to be a major player, with over 25 worldwide customers and thousands of turrets fielded. The value of the Rafael RWS is not just that of the gun-mount itself, but what it can host as a ‘system-of-systems,’ turning any land vehicle into a lethal, survivable and capable vehicle. For example, the operational SAMSON 30mm all-in-one system provides unmatched on-the-move precision firepower, coupled to excellent operator benefits. In addition, thanks to its open architecture, it can accommodate modular add-ons such as SPIKE missiles, TROPHY active protection, self-protection, countermeasures, BNet communications, the Fire-Weaver networked strike system and other features, including customer-defined systems and third-party add-ons. Rafael identified this modularity as being invaluable for adding value for customers and enabling local participation.
MON: How intensive is your R&D? In which directions are you pursuing technological excellence – and how are those directions changing?
GW: Rafael continues to host 32 national centres of excellence, in all of which R&D investments are made regularly. Rafael applies vast experience and ingenuity in the R&D of unique technologies and capabilities in a variety of fields, including image processing, mechanics, electronics, software, aeronautical and micro-electronics, components and subsystems, such as rocket motors, warheads, pyrotechnics and many more. Our work in integrating advanced AI, ‘Big Data,’ algorithm navigation and PNT solutions in a contested arena have catapulted us to the forefront of technological innovation. Annually, Rafael invests over 8% of revenues in R&D.
MON: Thank you for the opportunity to learn a little more about Rafael’s capabilities.