The IAF has many products and technologies that were developed by the force in partnership with civilian industries in Israel, such as many developments in the RPAV (Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicle) Division. “The operational theatre can change at any time. When we develop a product ourselves, we’re the ones in control”
The IAF has aircraft, systems, and munitions that are Israeli made. These developments are a result of a certain IAF operational needs and a development process carried out by civilian industries in Israel.
The armament developing process in the IAF includes many stages: "A certain operational need arises in the IAF. If the HQ approves it, the relevant factor performs a feasibility test, during which he writes a document describing the IAF's development requirements", explains Lt. Y, an officer in the "Eitan" RPAV Department of the Armament Division. "The suitable industries for developing the product present the duration of development and the budget they'll need, and the IAF chooses the most fitting one to work with. At the beginning of the development, the industries work alone and examine the best way to manufacture the product".
The IAF's RPAV (Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicle) Division works in cooperation with many civilian industries in Israel. "When the product reaches its experimental stage, that's where we come in the picture", shares Lt. Y. Lt. B, an officer in the "Shoval" RPAV Department of the Armament Division, adds: "As an operational factor, we approve the development process and see how the product looks, operates, and what adjustments need to made".
Fitting the Product
Since the RPAV Department in the Armament Division works with Israeli civilian industries, they have the ability to take a meaningful part in the development process. "All of the industries we work with operate here in Israel, and so we can characterize the product as we see fit. For example, changing the aircraft's operating system to a new one isn't easy, since the system mostly comes to us fully intact", mentions Lt. Y. "However, in the RPAV field, I have the ability to contact the industry, sit down with the engineer, and adjust the product to our needs. We have a simple and flexible connection with them. Therefore, proceedings meant to strengthen the RPAV Division are carried out relatively quickly".
Lt. B and Lt. Y are both responsible for managing projects in the RPAV Division from beginning to end, each in their own separate departments. "We handle everything regarding aircraft, from their systems to their payload", continues Lt. B.
A large part of personnel in Israeli civilian industries once served in the IAF. "Many of them served in the Material Directorate. The operators responsible for piloting the RPAV's during experiments are reserve IAF officers, so sometimes we know them personally", shares Lt. Y. "Our acquaintance makes for more simple dialogue between us. We speak the same language. Furthermore, the operators in the civilian industries have more independence in their field since they have an operational background. They can understand our operational needs".
Maintaining Our Capabilities
After the IAF and the civilian industry manage to manufacture a product, the industry begins in executing development experiments. After these experiments are executed successfully, the IAF's Experimental Flight Center Squadron performs acceptance trials. If the development works as it should, the next stage begins - the development arrives at the operational squadrons and they operate it non-operationally to examine its performance. This is the last stage of the development process.
"No project ends like it was initially planned", mentions Lt. B. Lt. Y continues by saying: "At the beginning of the project, we don't know all of the details about its activity. For example, I don't know where a certain button will be placed, how bright the screen will be, or how long is the delay from pressing the button to executing the action. Therefore, during the development process, it's important to maintain contact and coordinate with the relevant factors from the industry".
"As stated, one of the advantages in developing armaments ourselves here in Israel is the ability to manufacture a product that fits our exact need - we have more control over the manufacturing process", presents Lt. B. "The operational theatre can change at any time. When we develop a product ourselves, we're the ones in control. This way, we can reach a final result that fits us and ignites Israel's economy".
"The State of Israel, the IDF, and the IAF have an interest in keeping our capabilities to ourselves", concludes Lt. Y. "When we manufacture systems, munitions, aircraft, or any other product in cooperation with Israeli industries, we maintain our capabilities".