Israel Aerospace Industries was established in 1953 as Bedek Aviation Company, five years after the establishment of the State of Israel. Contributing to the defense of the embattled new country against neighboring Arab States, the Company worked closely with the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to meet its needs.
Bedek Aviation was an "all-purpose service and supplies" outfit, situated in a hangar in the coastal plains in the center of Israel. The Company was comprised of ambitious men and women who worked under the determined leadership of Al Schwimmer - an American Jew, who had moved to Israel to help build the new State. With the support of David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, and Shimon Peres, then Director General of the Ministry of Defense, he used his experience and knowledge in aviation and business to create the foundation of today's leading industrial corporation in Israel.
Since the 1950s, IAI has developed its capabilities in the modification, upgrade and improvement of fighter and commercial aircraft and helicopters, engines and electronics systems. The experience gained in battle fostered the relationship between IAI and the IAF, and accelerated the development of new, improved systems and products.
Israel Aerospace Industries' scope has expanded to include technologically sophisticated solutions for battle in the air, at sea or on land. These capabilities have contributed significantly to the Israel Defense Force's strategic superiority in these arenas.
Over the years IAI has applied the skills and experience it has acquired in catering to Israel's security needs, in order to capitalize on opportunities in export markets. As a result, the Company has become a world leader in aircraft conversion and modernization programs, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), communication programs and defense electronics. Space is Israel's latest area of leadership, with the development of the Ofeq observation satellite, the AMOS communications satellite and the Shavit launcher.
Examples of systems currently in use by the IDF are upgraded F-16, F-15 and F-4 aircraft, Yasur 2000 and upgraded CH-53 helicopters, Dvora patrol boats, Gabriel sea-to-sea missiles, and the Phalcon Early Warning aircraft. The Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile, Israel's answer to the threat of short and medium-range ballistic missiles, is currently in development at IAI, in cooperation with the Israel Ministry of Defense and the US Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
IAI's development has paralleled that of the State of Israel and the Company has been privileged to play a substantial role in the industrial, technological and economic progress of the country and its national security.