Elbit Systems strengthening existing interfaces, enhancing commercial co-operations & knowledge transfer
In combination with ILA Berlin Air Show and the opening of an office in the city, Bezhalel Machlis, President and CEO of Elbit Systems, is interviewed by the ILA Show Dailies and explains how the company intends to grow in this market, expand local development and manufacturing efforts, and how Elbit Systems intends to strengthen its presence in Germany.
What is Elbit Systems’ intension to open an office in Berlin, Germany?
B. Machlis: We have been successfully operating in Germany for more than a decade. We acquired Telefunken RACOMS, established strong co-operations with local companies, and we are involved in significant projects in the German defence industry in the fields of radio, electro-optics and aircraft protection systems. The political significance of Germany, its robust economy, its industrial and technological strength, and the leadership of the German defence forces (Bundeswehr) – make Germany an important target market for us. We intend to grow in this market, expand local development and manufacturing efforts, enhance the transfer of knowledge and deepen our commercial and industrial co-operations. Curiously enough one may actually say that as far as technology is concerned, Elbit Systems German roots run deep. The physicist Emanuel Goldenberg, who headed the Photographic Department in the National Academy of Leipzig and later was one of the founders of Zeiss Icon, immigrated to Israel and established the Electro-optics Elop company, now part of Elbit Systems’ ISTAR division. We intend to build on this and keep growing in Germany.
Who will be employed at this office?
B. Machlis: Our office in Berlin will be led by senior industry officials. This new office is an important element in our overall plans to significantly strengthen our presence in Germany, expand our technological and industrial base in the country and broaden the cooperation with local industries.
What are some of the most important programmes in Germany for your company?
B. Machlis: Our subsidiary, Telefunken RACOMS, a long time supplier to the Bundeswehr, develops and provides the German military with tactical radio systems and EO systems. Together with Diehl Defence, we develop and supply DIRCM systems for the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) and we are currently exploring additional cooperation with German industries. I strongly believe that we are competitively positioned to take part in a wide range of programmes for the Bundeswehr, including radio, aircraft protection and electro-optics.
Will this affect or supplement your successful activities in Germany via your subsidiary Telefunken RACOMS?
B. Machlis: The acquisition of Telefunken RACOMS in 2004 established our operations in Germany on sound foundations in terms of local advanced technological development, top quality production and transfer of knowledge, and greatly contributed to our long-term relationship with the German defence establishment. In concert with our subsidiary, we enhance our position in the market through collaborations with other German companies, such as Diehl Defence. The opening of the office in Berlin will strengthen existing interfaces, enhance commercial co-operations and knowledge transfer that are necessary for a long term development and growth in the German market.
As Telefunken RACOMS has in the past won tenders with the Bundeswehr, will they now just focus on their speciality, i.e. RF, while with, e.g. EO/IR equipment, Elbit Systems will go ahead on their own?
B. Machlis: Telefunken RACOMS has advanced engineering and development capabilities in various fields including radio and EO as well as high quality production facilities. We intend to keep building on those capabilities, expand Telefunken RACOMS local technology development activity and augment it via knowledge transfers. It is worth mentioning that Telefunken RACOMS was recently awarded a project to supply thousands of latest generation NVGs for German infantry soldiers, a project which involves a powerful combination of local development and transfer of knowledge and top quality local production.
Please detail relationships with the German defence industry and transfer of technology.
B. Machlis: In addition to almost 15 years of successful work with our subsidiary Telefunken RACOMS, Elbit Systems developed a fruitful collaboration with Diehl Defence and is currently seeking additional co-operations with other German defence industries.Our close relationship with the Israeli MoD, with the Israeli Embassy in Germany and with the Israeli MoD delegation, as well as with Israeli Defence Attaché in Germany, all significantly contribute to our efforts to expand co-operations in Germany.We identify several areas in which our technologically advanced and combat proven portfolio effectively meets the needs of the German market. The field of radio and communication is one example. Elbit Systems is a global leader in this field, offering a portfolio of battle tested SDR systems, airborne radio communication solutions, SAR solutions, advanced C2 systems and cyber technology. Telefunken RACOMS spearheads our efforts in Germany in this field, while knowledge transfer in specific areas serves to further augment our radio activity. We plan to boost the knowledge transfer leveraging our experience in leading successful radio and C2 programmes in Australia, Switzerland, Benelux, the UK, Finland and other European countries.Advanced EO and aircraft protection systems are two other areas in which Elbit Systems has built a significant global competitive advantage. We uniquely offer a diverse portfolio of technologically superior and extensively operational ISTAR systems, DIRCM systems and EW solutions currently in use by customers in Israel, Europe, the USA and Asia Pacific countries. In EO Telefunken RACOMS plays a leading role as well, integrating advanced local development, knowledge transfer and top standard manufacturing to a powerful effect. Working closely with Diehl Defence we were selected to develop and produce protection suites for the Luftwaffe A400 transport aircraft.
Will the Berlin office act as a base for further European expansion?
B. Machlis: Our office in Berlin will focus its efforts solely in Germany in order to best address the market’s demands and to provide the best service to local customers and partners.
Where in Europe do you see sales opportunities for which equipment?
B. Machlis: In addition to Germany, Elbit Systems is consistently expanding its operations in key markets in Europe, as part of the company’s long term growth strategy. We were contracted to supply land based EW arrays for European customers; jointly with KBR, Elbit Systems UK built and operate the UK MFTS programme; we prime the Benelux Smart Vest programme and the Swiss HERMES 900 UAS programme; we were selected to provide self-protection systems for NATO’s A330s fleet, and to supply radio and SDR systems to various European countries including the UK, Finland and others; we participate in large scale projects in the field of unmanned weapons systems for AFVs, lead extensive upgrade programmes for airborne platforms and provide cyber solutions to customers in Switzerland and France. We believe that customers in Europe recognise our uniquely competitive portfolio and increasingly view our battle tested technologies as their solution of choice.
Please detail advanced systems for infantry soldiers in the Benelux countries as part of your $150 million contract from the Dutch MoD.
B. Machlis: Delivery of pre-series systems for the SMARTVEST programme has been completed and we are progressing according to plans in full coordination with the customer. The system provides a digital integrated solution including load carriage & protections, communication and C2 capabilities. The main technology drivers of the digital soldier comprised of two combat proven and extensively tested elements: the PNR-1000 and the RAPTOR. The PNR-1000 is an SDR that offers a no single point of failure ad-hoc MANET networking of up to 64 members and enables simultaneous voice, data and video communications. The RAPTOR is a compact, rugged, wearable computer that hosts a C4I application and provides soldiers with full tactical situational awareness. The system enables soldiers to view a real-time common operational picture on an advanced display and enable them to share live target and mission data and manage all phases of the combat including planning, briefing, execution and debriefing. Another important aspect of the solution we provide in the SMARTVEST programme is the connectivity with all in-service radios and the interoperability with external NATO and coalition systems.
Has Switzerland asked to upgrade their HERMES 900, are they content with their systems?
B. Machlis: The programme is progressing to the expressed satisfaction of the Swiss customer. According to the agreed schedule delivery will initiate in 2019.