“We will have to deal deeply with cyber-issues and with all aspects and types of low signatures,” says the 61-year-old Weiss. “I think IAI has to enlarge the percentage invested in its own R&D to keep its technological edge over competitors and to support the state of Israel. We have to improve the affordability of state-of-the-art technology to compete in international markets. And we have to increase our hold on the space domain.”
IAI revenues were $894 million in the first quarter of 2012. The company employs 16,000 people.
A key to IAI's plans is development of the next generation of gallium nitride microchips. GaN has been commonly used in light-emitting diodes. It offers special properties for improving electro-optic, high-power and high-frequency devices. It also is suitable for solar-cell arrays for satellites since they remain stable in high-radiation environments. GaN also operates at hotter temperatures and higher voltages than other transistors, so the devices make excellent power amplifiers at microwave frequencies.
Other IAI interests include advanced communications of all types and phased array radars.
“At the systems level, we will see how to position ourselves more strongly in the air defense field, with optical and radar seekers, and in electronic warfare,” says Weiss. “With potential partners, we will exchange views about future long-duration executive jet markets.”
Cybertechnologies are yet another area that IAI intends to target. Weiss points out that it is a new field that no one really understands yet. Moreover, the level of investment increases as the research becomes more sophisticated.
On the other hand, he notes, “you can't discuss any system without taking into account potential cybereffects. Inherently, cyber is a mandatory building block. To understand the nuts and bolts of cyber, we have a ways to go. At IAI, we have focus teams dealing with the technology.
“Trying to differentiate what is cyber and what is the rest of a system is becoming more and more problematic,” says Weiss. “In defining a system, what are the basic requirements and what are the cyber-requirements? Sometimes it is the very essence of the requirement, sometimes it is just the outer envelope. While doing practical things to our own systems, we are looking and mapping the areas of real interest to IAI and how much money to invest in that and what revenue can result from such activity.
“I'm coming to my new appointment in very foggy weather,” he says. “We can see the crisis in Europe, the depression in the U.S., and we are totally aware of the huge cut in U.S. and Israeli defense budgets. Even in the markets of the Far East—China and India—the growth is lower than expected. For a company whose business is 80% export, the environment is very tough, so we have to be aggressive and creative. We need ideas to solve the customers' problems with reasonable cost.”