Interview | Executive vice president, marketing and business development, Rafael, Ariel Karo

Rafael Has Already Shown its Commitment to Local Production, Knowledge Transfer and Industrial Cooperation

Ariel KaroThis have been an unusual year. How did Rafael adapt to new realities dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 has had a substantial impact on everyone, across all industries. It is yet to be determined by any government precisely what impact the crisis will have on its expenditures, allocations and re-structuring. While waiting for the dust to settle, we are not stagnating, and are constantly on-the-move, researching, developing, keeping in close touch with our partners and customers around the world, adapting to the new reality of travel freeze, while maintaining relations via alternative digital routes, as we remain with a finger on the pulse, optimistic.

Despite substantial limitations, we have managed to overcome and carry on with our commitments to our customers, such as deliveries, maintenance, trials, etc.


From Rafael’s perspective, how is Aero India 2021 different from its previous editions in terms of your exhibits and participation?

Aero India will be different this year, but Rafael is committed to India, and we intend to set up a substantial stall, as we do every year in India, exhibit our solutions, meet with our friends and partners from the various industries, present out technology to our clients and users, and do our utmost, despite the inherent limitations, to provide India with the most highly-advanced and affordable systems, while striving to expand local manufacturing, create jobs and facilitating global Indian exports.


Did the pandemic affect your ongoing programmes in India? What has been the progress on those?

India presents immense potential in every techno-military aspect, and Rafael is there to address these needs and requirements, spanning from air defence, with systems such as the SPYDER, tactical missiles for all services and platforms, ground, air and naval, with our SPIKE ATGM’s, broadband communication with the Bnet SDR technology, aerial systems ranging from air-to-air missiles to ISR and attach pods (Reccelite XR and Litening 5), air-to-ground munition (SPICE) naval systems to provide 360 degree protection for vessels, including the Barak 1 naval defence system, and many more. One of our advantages is the ability to tailor-make solutions to match the user’s specific requirements, and the ability to deliver our products quickly, without making any quality compromises.

One trend that is common around the world and includes India, is that there is certainly going to be an upward trend in countries leaning towards upgrading their platforms, and less procurement of new platforms. This was true before COVID-19 and it has been amplified due to the crisis.

KRAS, the JV between Rafael and Kalyani Group has, last year received USD100 million order from Rafael to supply Barak-8/MRSAM kits to the Indian Army and IAF. What does the deal aim to achieve?

In 2019, Rafael presented a USD100 million contract to KRAS for the manufacturing of 1,000 BARAK 8/ MRSAM missile kits to be supplied for further integration purposes.

We are proud of our role—not only in creating KRAS, a JV that was established with the vision of engineering new weapon systems required by the Indian defence forces, as well as for the export market, but also of our participation in ‘Make in India’, and our strong relationship with the vibrant talent across India’s defence industries. We look forward to celebrating many more milestones with KRAS, as well as our many other partners within India.


Can you tell us about UAVs that Rafael has on offer for India?

Rafael’s newly-acquired subsidiary Aeronautics provide integrated turnkey solutions based on unmanned systems platforms, payloads and communications for defence and civil applications. Designed as leading-edge UAS-based solutions, Aeronautics’ systems offer operationally-proven solutions for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems requirements.


How does Rafael plan to engage in the ‘Make in India’ initiative?

Rafael has been a long-standing defence partner of India and has displayed in action its growing interest in ‘Make in India’. It has already shown its commitment to local production, knowledge transfer and industrial cooperation, having already worked with different branches of the Indian armed forces and Indian security institutions and been successful in providing them with state-of-the-art systems in various operational contingencies, including air-to-air, air defence, ATGMs, targeting and reconnaissance pods, SDR communication etc.

Over time Rafael has also signed joint venture contracts with leading Indian defence companies like Kalyani Group (KRAS) and Astra Microwave (Astra Rafael Communication System). These strategic technology partnerships and joint ventures have led towards substantial and effective transfer of technology to India, enhancement of local production and skills, building and working on projects with superior calibre, and have laid the necessary infrastructure to facilitate export activity. This kind of activity has widened supply chains, and is playing an important role in supporting India’s economic stance, especially post-Corona, creating employment, and bolstering its efforts to become a significant exporter of technology.



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