Exclusive interview with Rafael´s Haim Jacobovitz: Practice makes perfect.
Our Publisher of Middle East Security News Mr. Victor Bjorgan with Mr. Haim Jacobovitz from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. (Haifa, Israel) at Eurosatory 2016.
During Eurosatory 2016 in Paris, Europe Security News & Middle East Security News interviewed Mr. Haim Jacobovitz, VP Corporate International Marketing of the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., with headquarters in Haifa.
Mr. Jacobovitz was asked about the strengths of Israeli weaponry, specially those products and services designed and produced by Rafael. He was also asked about citizen and public safety issues and the role of the private sector.
- Mr, Jacobovitz, why is Israel becoming much more efficient and effective in using their weapons in a conflict, where they can harm civilians?
The State of Israel which is now 68 years old, it was founded in 1948, has gone through a lot of wars, some of them were very big, for example the Independence War, and the Yom Kippur War, and some of them was smaller but still a lot of wars. Which means that,.. that people of Israel in general gathered a lot of experience –if you can call it- in what is the meaning of collateral damage, what is the meaning of protecting citizens . The fact that Israel is a small country , forced us to found solutions that in one hand we can fight against the enemy wherever it is, but on the other hand keeps the rights of Israeli civilians as quiet as possible , and other fact is that the almost everybody who works not only in Rafael but also in other companies working for Rafael served in the Army, our people who served in the Army are serving in Reserve until the age of 40, 45 , so where they come to the work at Rafael they are pilots, there are Army soldiers, they are Navy soldiers, therefore they stand better than anybody else in the dilemma between technology and operational needs, it is not an academic organization, it is a very practical organization that every engineer, every that works in Rafael few days a year they serve in the Reserve, in the Army. Which make the cycle of developing a product much more efficient than in other countries because when you have only people that have been in the University but never served in the Army , although they have the technical understanding they miss the operational understanding and our guys are equipped with both , the technical and the operational.
– Is the Army budget enough for all of these improvements?
Another fact is the lack of defense budget, we do not have enough money to do two, three, four, five cycles of development, we need to be sharp in the first cycle.
And I give you an example , the development of Iron Dome was done in less than three years, I do not think that there is any achievement like this in the world. And the fact that Rafael gave the Iron Dome solution to the State of Israel , really is a life saver for the population of Israel, is a good example of everything that I said right now. The people who developed Iron Dome , some of them are serving in the Air Defense Unit in the Israeli Air Force, they are all engineers that have understanding of the technical and operational dilemma. They understand what it means if the Iron Dome fails, then what will be the implications for the citizens of Israel and when you combine all those qualities you got a company that can develop Iron Dome, in a very short time, in a very efficient way, and Iron Dome is only a example, but it is a good example because is very famous all over the world. But this is true for hundreds of systems that Rafael developed during the years, for the people of Israel.
– what about the collateral damage?
Another layer is to minimize the collateral damage , I say this and I am not giving any comments in what the country is doing , but politically the State of Israel can not allow collateral damage because if we once we do a mistake and it hit the wrong target the political damage and reaction will be dramatic all over the world .
We are not a superpower in the world, and we can not allow ourselves as a State any mistake or collateral damage, and this understanding is going down to the last person, and the last engineer in Rafael , so we are trying and we are developing Defense and by the way, nobody is clean for mistakes, everybody can do mistakes, but we are trying to minimize the situation and each of our systems will not create any collateral damage, neither for the State of Israel and for our clients outside .
This is part of our ethical DNA in Rafael, and that is how we are educating our people, so I think I gave you in a nutshell the high level philosophy that leads the management, the engineering, the technicians, the workers in Rafael, and within our systems I think the Iron Dome is a good example of what I am trying to say.
– Mr. Jacobovitz, tell us about other examples of products that does produce Rafael , that almost have the same impact , efficiency without collateral damage?
We developed recently the Trophy system, have you heard about it?..
Trophy is a system for protecting tanks against RPGs, against any other anti tank missiles, the way that we develop it serves two main targets. One of them is to protect the tank crew, and the other one of them is not to create a collateral damage for people standing around the tank .
And we did it, we equipped the Israeli Army with this system and this system again became a life saver for the Israeli tank crews in the last conflicts, in the Gaza Strip some years ago, and it was really a life saver over there. It was developed in a short time , so all together we pack the system and gave it to the Israeli Defense and now we are trying to export it and that is why we are here in the Eurosatory Show.
And the last example, Rafael has developed a unique, precise, air to surface bombing, is called the Spice, this type or family of ammunition can give the pilot the ability to hit a target as small as a window, so we are giving the Israeli Air Force pilots the ability to hit very, very precisely in a pixel accuracy. Any target they want to choose, so again is a very efficient , it reduces dramatically the collateral damage in air to surface bombing this is some capabilities that other countries did not develop yet.
This Spice rocket is not shown here because this is a land, is a Army show, is not a Air Force show. The rocket was in Le Bourget Show last year and will be in Le Bourget next year.
- It can be fixed in a helicopter?
No, not helicopters, but fighters. Even our Spike family that can be used in a helicopter is another example of a very precise weapon. The Spike is a family of missiles that can be launched, either from the ground or from a helicopter. Again, very precise to avoid collateral damage so this is a fact in many products that Rafael developed.
- Mr, Jacobovitz, yesterday night a French policeman and his wife were stabbed to death by a terrorist in Paris, and we saw in the news the opinion of police officers, also the opinion of politicians, but it is always difficult to get the opinion of the private sector, how to improve public safety, how to improve citizen safety, what can the private sector do, for example a interview with the leader of another private company, he said to me “sometimes the private sector looks away from which kind of clients they get, it can be the good guys, and sometimes they sell to the bad guys.” So, what could be your opinion, as a member of the private sector, what do you have in your heart that can be of use to improve citizen safety?
I do not think this is a good answer to this, but Rafael as a defense company is not dealing with such systems directly, however one of the ways , and there is not only one way , will be by collecting a lot of information from a lot of people selling information, which needs to process this, and Rafael is working with this , that is Big Data handling. If you have a very sophisticated machine that can handle information automatically in a very short time, terabytes of information that come from cameras, telephones, you name it, whatever source, then you might create some situation of awareness view to the decision maker to help make any decision.
But this is still yet to be developed, it is a long way, we are not there yet, and as you told me, something happened in Paris yesterday, it happens a lot in Israel, it happened in London, Washington, in Florida days ago, the name of the game probably is intelligence and how to create an intelligence how to fuse main sources. That might be the next phase, but we are in the beginning now.
–Why Big Data has so much to say?
Big Data means that there is a lot of security cameras all over the world, if you would have a machine that take pictures from days ago , months ago, and create some type of understanding, that a person was here, here and there, and some other will give you telephone calls , whatever your imagination can create, but this system needs to work on Big Data sources , humans can not be in the process, it should be automatically and a sophisticated machine.
– But the machines are yet not so intelligent to find out the meanings and twists in the use of Big Data information.
You have to developed the right programming, and things will happen, but this is a long way, so unfortunately we do not have a good solution right now, Israel and Orlando are good proof that there is a need. Some companies will tell you “yeah, we have it” “yes, we can” I tell you we are trying but still we have a long way to go.
– Yes, because Big Data is like a monster, is increasing every day.
Take this one, there are thousand of cameras in the world, everybody is taking hundred million of photos every day, hundreds of millions of text messages, think what can happen if a big machine can integrate all the information of one day and give you some conclusion. That is what we are trying to do, but there is a long way.