Interview | President and CEO, Rafael, Maj. Gen. (retd) Yoav Har-Even

AI is partly what enables our systems to have unequalled speed and accuracy, particularly when operating in complex arenas with multiple targets, an elusive enemy and multiple effectors, to perform simultaneous, precision strikes.

How do you see India as a defence market? What are the areas of your immediate, medium and long-term interests across domains?

Rafael considers India as a strategic partner and will continue to move towards indigenous production and development of advanced defence systems. Rafael looks to India for cooperation in the defence industry as a strategic relation. We are fully committed to support ‘Make in India’ initiatives.

As the Indian defence industry matures, we look forward at establishing global manufacturing hubs for supply of systems abroad. For Rafael, exploitation of our R&D intensive and combat proven technology for developing the Indian defence industry, while addressing the urgent operational requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF), is a win-win situation for all.

As far as systems for land and naval systems, we are offering the Spike Family of electro-optical, precision-guided, tactical missiles launched from the air, ground and sea, Remote-Controlled Weapon Stations for ground and naval applications. We are also offering the Trophy APS Family and our BNET SDR communication.

We are offering and are involved in a wide range of systems and capabilities in air defence systems such as the SPYDER air-defence system, based on Rafael’s advanced air-to-air Python-5 and i-Derby missiles and the Derby stand-alone missile.


On which programmes are you cooperating/ collaborating with the DRDO?

Rafael cooperates with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on many programmes based on the needs of the Indian government. The MR SAM / Barak -8 missile is one such major programmes which has reached fruition. There are others which are under discussion or in progress, which the DRDO will probably be in a better position to respond to.


What is the vision for Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems’ (KRAS) facility in Hyderabad? Which programmes is KRAS currently undertaking?

At KRAS we have established the capability of the SPIKE ATGM and Spice 2000 production within India. Our facility in Hyderabad is fully equipped with the most advanced technologies to carry production and integration of advanced missiles and systems. in KRAS supply chain we have large number of sub-contractors and MSME that are ready and qualified for production. In this regard it would be important to mention the requirement for skilled employees. KRAS will also, where required, provide maintenance and upgrade support to the existing Rafael products in use within the Indian military.

India recently placed an order for SPICE-2000 bombs for Mirage fighters. What are the timelines for this programme?

Spice 2000 is in operational use and recent orders are in delivery to the Indian AF.


What is the progress on the offer of I-Derby ER for LCA Tejas Mk1 and Mk2?

Python 5 and Derby are in service in the IAF as part of the SPYDER LLQRM programme and as air-to-air missiles on the LCA. These missiles and their advanced versions will be part of future air-to-air and air defence programmes in the air force and the army. Both missiles can potentially be integrated on LCA, HAWK, Su-30 or any other combat A/C in the IAF.


Most global companies are incorporating autonomy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their future programmes. In terms of R&D, what have been the new developments at Rafael?

AI and deep learning have been a part and parcel of our technologies for a long time and have been integrated into many of our systems for a variety of applications with advanced algorithms for automation, image processing and AI. Just recently, we unveiled the new AI and deep learning technologies in SPICE-250 to enable Automatic Target Recognition. Other examples include the SKYSPOTTER early passive early warning system, our future combat vehicle technologies that transform any type of armoured combat platform into an ultra-modern, connected, protected and lethal defence system with enhanced survivability and autonomous capabilities and more. AI is partly what enables our systems to have unequalled speed and accuracy, particularly when operating in complex arenas with multiple targets, an elusive enemy and multiple effectors, to perform simultaneous, precision strikes.


With reference to ‘Make in India’, what is your level of engagement with the Indian industry? What kind of eco-system have you created and to what extent is it part of your global supply chain?

Rafael makes in India, and has been working steadily to create technology partnerships or joint ventures with major Indian companies to address various projects and has created structures to ensure technological transfer to India, including last summer’s inauguration of a state-of-the-art facility at Hardware Technology Park, Hyderabad for local manufacturing of the SDR BNET communication.

We understand the growing need for increased cooperation and partnership with global clients, and for maintaining knowledge transfer and adaptation of existing solutions to the specific needs of the user. As such, Rafael is constantly seeking new partnerships and joint ventures with Indian companies for cooperation that will help drive forward our mutual ability to address local needs and operational requirements, as well as offset requirements.


Given your worldwide experience, what do you view as the limitations of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)? What needs to be done to create a sustainable defence industrial base in the country?

Our observation is that DPP is being updated continuously and the industry is well involved in amending the procedure.


The Indian ministry of defence (MoD) says that changing the location of DefExpo for each edition is to encourage wide-spreading of the defence-industrial ecosystem. From a global OEM’s perspective, how useful or cumbersome is this approach?

We are always happy to accommodate any decision that promotes economic activity, and job creation. Rafael is a very agile company, both in its thinking and its ability to tailor our solutions to the customers’ requirements, and this includes participating in Indian shows that take place in different locations across the country.


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