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Israeli Roboteam 'Soldiers of Iron' Startup Raises $50M Series B for its UGV

Israeli Roboteam 'Soldiers of Iron' Startup Raises $50M Series B for its UGV

Calcalist. The startup was founded in Israel in 2009 by co-CEOs Yossi Wolf and Elad Levy. Wolf has more than 15 years’ experience in the fields of robotics and unmanned vehicles. Prior to founding Roboteam, he was head of the robotics division at ODF Optronics. He has an extensive background in physics and philosophy and is the holder of several patents. He previously served as a Captain and Company Commander in the Israeli Air Force Special Forces. Levy, who is responsible for global operations, previously served as an Officer and Company Commander in the Israeli Air Force Special Forces and holds a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, where he specialized in Robotic Control. Roboteam initially received funding from the Israeli Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has officially included Roboteam’s tactical robotic system, dubbed Soldier of Iron, as the newest members of its elite infantry units. The new addition is equipped with day/night vision, can climb stairs, and is capable of completing high-risk surveillance and reconnaissance missions. [caption id="attachment_433863" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]roboteam_soldier_of_iron Soldier of Iron: Roboteam. (Courtesy: YNet)[/caption] Roboteam designs, develops and manufactures remote control unmanned UGV for defense, law enforcement, and public safety missions. The company is able to provide expert technical engineering units offering complete operational and tactical control, overall mission management and enhanced force coordination. It now counts as its customers various U.S. military and homeland defense branches, as well as defense and counter-terrorism forces in Canada, the UK, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Singapore, Thailand, and others, with 32 site deployments worldwide and 54 government contracts delivered. Roboteam is making inroads into the U.S. market by producing less costly, multiple-mission robots. “We need to make systems differently for the new battlefield,” says Roboteam’s North America CEO Shahar Abuhazira, a veteran of Israel’s summer 2014 Gaza war where he served as an infantry company commander in support of the urban, anti-tunnel campaign. Of Roboteam’s 120 direct employees, about half are based in Israel and the rest are at its U.S. headquarters in Gaithersburg, Maryland and elsewhere. Lowering the cost of producing and maintaining robots is imperative for manufacturers that want to compete in this market. The small unmanned ground vehicles that the Army bought by the thousands over the past decade cost up to $200,000 each, depending on the configuration and quantities. “I think we need to cut the price in half,” Abuhazira recently told the National Defense Industrial Association’s National Defense magazine. “It’s not just the cost of buying, but also maintenance and service.” The Army estimates that since 2004, it has built up an inventory of about 7,000 robots, most assigned to explosive ordnance disposal teams. Officials are now eyeing broader applications for robots that could be equipped with a diversity of weapons and cameras. “We need to make sure systems are simpler to operate,” Abuhazira says. Whereas explosive ordnance squads are dedicated experts, infantry troops need more user-friendly machines. To do multiple jobs, robots have to be “plug and play” systems so users can pick and choose sensors and payloads to fit the mission, Abuhazira says. “Today it’s expensive to do changes.” Roboteam created a line of lightweight, fast deployable unmanned ground systems that deliver technological and functional breakthroughs for tactical purposes with unmatched reliability. Its customers include the US Military, Special Forces, EOD units and SWAT teams as well as other elite units around the globe. Roboteam’s success can be attributed to the company’s intimate knowledge of customers’ operational needs. “All around the world, terrorism looks the same, whether it’s ISIS, or in Israel, France or Chechnya,” Roboteam’s co-founder and co-CEO Yosi Wolf told Bloomberg last year. “Fighting terrorism is urban warfare where carrier ships and war planes are a lot less relevant. This is where special forces make the difference and these robots can be game-changers.” Roboteam features a family of robotic solutions and operator control units designed for numerous operational missions such as gathering tactical intelligence and reconnaissance (ISR), explosive ordinance disposal (EOD), subterranean/tunnel investigations, search & rescue, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and hazardous materials (CBRN & HAZMAT) handling. Roboteam is one of several bidders for the Army’s CRSI, or common robotic system individual. The service plans to acquire up to 4,100 25-pound or lighter robots for use at the squad level, according to NDIA. The company won a U.S. government contract from the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office in 2013 to produce a micro-tactical ground robot that was later acquired by U.S. special operations forces, homeland security and border security agencies. Key to winning that contract, was offering a backpack-size robot that could be operated more easily by dismounted troops and law enforcement agents, Abuhazira said. According to Roboteam executives, the MTGR weighs less than 20 pounds, carries its weight in payload and is built to clear obstacles, climb stairs and conduct complex maneuvers in extreme terrain. Billed by the company as the world’s lightest EOD platform, the single-soldier-carried MTCG travels at 2 mph, climbs 8-inch stairs and has a line of sight operating range of more than 1,600 feet. Established initially as a boutique provider of optronics, robotics and intuitive imaging, Roboteam beat out much larger and more established US firms Foster Miller, a subsidiary of British QinetiQ; and Bedford, Massachusetts-based iRobot, said Defense News. In July, Roboteam hired former Army Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology Heidi Shyu to serve on its advisory board. Shyu is a known personality in the Pentagon and the industry who has championed the use of unmanned systems, NDIA says. During her time as the Army’s top procurement executive, Shyu was emphatic about the need for a common architecture, open-source software and open standards in robotics programs. Roboteam executives met Shyu in 2014 following a visit by Pentagon procurement chief Frank Kendall to the company’s research center in Tel Aviv. Kendall was especially impressed by the technology for unmanned subterranean vehicles and asked Shyu to go see it for herself. Abuhazira says Shyu will help direct strategic planning, “so we better understand the market, and better plan our resources to meet the Army requirements.” The top targets are the CRSI program and the next generation of the Army’s “man-transportable robotics system.” According to NDIA, the MTRS will replace the Talon family of robots over the next decade. “Soon after we opened, within months, we started to get contacted by the U.S. government,” he says. “We are growing fast.” One of the largest wins was a $25 million Air Force contract in 2015 to supply up to 250 small bomb-disposal robots.]]>

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Finished 2014 with Record Orders Totaling $3 Bln

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Finished 2014 with Record Orders Totaling $3 Bln

  • Rafael announced its financial results for 2014, ending the year with a net profit of $90 million.
  • Rafael CEO Yedidia Yaari: “In 2014, Rafael’s contribution to Israel’s security was well-witnessed during Operation Protective Edge.”
  • (IsraelDefense) — Rafael Advanced Defense Systems ended the year 2014 with a net profit of $90 million, with orders totaling $3 billion, an order backlog of $5 billion and sales of $1.9 billion.

    Rafael develops and manufactures advanced defense systems for the IDF and the defense establishment in Israel and for many countries around the world, and conducts global partnerships.

    As noted, in 2014 Rafael posted record orders totaling $2.9 billion, compared to $1.8 billion in 2013. Rafael’s net profit in 2014 was $90 million (4.6% of sales).

    Rafael’s profits in 2014 were achieved for the most part from its production, R&D, and marketing in the following fields: air defense, air-to-ground systems, multi-purpose, electro-optical-tactical precision missile systems, navigation, targeting and tactical reconnaissance pods (“Litening”), Communication and Intelligence systems, space propulsion, and more.

    Rafael’s order backlog in 2014 was $5 billion, comprising approximately 2.5 years of sales activity, of which 55% is intended for export to many countries in Latin America, the U.S., Asia and others.

    In 2014 Rafael continued its efforts to expand existing markets and enter developing markets, while creating new local partnerships. During the year, Rafael signed a joint-venture agreement with Bharat Forge of India, aimed at strengthening the sales potential in the important Indian market.

    In addition, the year 2014 was characterized by Rafael’s continued investment and professional development of its human capital, while maintaining its R&D (8% of its sales), in the professional development of its employees, and its significant cooperation with academic institutions.


    VADM (ret.) Yedidia Yaari, President and CEO of Rafael, said that in 2014 Rafael’s contribution to Israel’s security was well-witnessed during Operation Protective Edge, with Iron Dome’s high interception rates of some 90%, as well as the central role of other Rafael technologies, including its Spike Family missiles, the Trophy APS for MBT’s and other system that acted as force multipliers with the IDF. This was supported by round-the-clock work by many of Rafael’s scientists, engineers and technicians. At the same time the company continued its marketing efforts as well as expansion of its global partnerships.

    “Rafael continues to offer its customers and partners a wide variety of advanced solutions and systems for specific needs and requirements. Many of these have already proven themselves in combat. In 2014 we increased our activity in the fields of intelligence and Cyber warfare, as well as homeland security and strategic asset and infrastructure protection”, said Yaari.

    Yaari added that the company’s human resource is at the forefront of its ability to deliver the most advanced technologies to customers to the IDF and to customers around the world, thereby enabling Rafael’s continued growth both in Israel and globally.

    Brig. Gen. (ret.) Itzhak Gat, Chairman of the Board at Rafael, said that Rafael continues to be a main pillar in Israel’s security, economy and society, this thanks to Rafael’s managers and employees and managers. Our technological and financial resilience and robustness enable us to make substantial investment in two significant fields: nurturing our human capital and investing in R&D. this will ensure the next generations of advanced defense systems that will secure Israel’s military supremacy in the air, on land and at sea. Such capabilities, developed by Rafael’s employees enable the IDF to achieve successful operation capabilities such as the ones we witnessed during Operation Protective Edge.

    Gat added that the realization of Rafael’s potential in the international markets is a central component in the company’s growth path. This will allow us to continue to invest substantial resources in R&D. With the receipt of the 2014 financial results, the Chairman of the Board conveyed his thanks to the CEO and to the company’s management and employees for their invaluable contribution to Rafael’s international business foundation and to Israel’s security.


    US Marine Corps Awards Israel's Elbit a $73.4M Laser Range Finder Contract

    US Marine Corps Awards Israel's Elbit a $73.4M Laser Range Finder Contract

    Elbit Systems Ltd. is an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial programs throughout the world. The company, which includes Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries, operates in the areas of aerospace, land and naval systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (“C4ISR”), unmanned aircraft systems, advanced electro-optics, electro-optic space systems, EW suites, signal intelligence systems, data links and communications systems and radios. The company also focuses on the upgrading of existing platforms, developing new technologies for defense, homeland security and commercial aviation applications and providing a range of support services, including training and simulation systems.]]>

    India's Kalyani Group forms JV with Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems

    India's Kalyani Group forms JV with Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems

    India’s Kalyani Group entered into a substantial joint venture with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, to manufacture advanced missile and weapons systems, and armor solutions for Indian, and subsequently global customers of Rafael, at a facility near the the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.

    rafael - SIBAT Kalyani managing director B.N. Kalyani said his company would hold 51 percent of the venture, in one of the first such partnerships since Infia’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi eased rules on foreign ownership in the defense industry sector last year, according to AFP. The deal was announced at an aviation industry conference in the southern city of Bangalore where the bosses of hundreds of defence firms have gathered seeking lucrative contracts with India. India, which has long been the world’s largest buyer of defence equipment, is in the midst of a multi-billion-dollar upgrade of its ageing military hardware. At the opening of the air show on Wednesday, Modi vowed to end India’s status as the world’s number one defence importer, saying he wanted 70 percent of hardware to be manufactured domestically by the turn of the decade.

    Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon met with Modi in New Delhi on Thursday after attending the show’s opening, where he said Israel was willing to work in joint production and development with India.

    “This visit gives us an opportunity to enhance and improve our relationship,” Yaalon said at a public lecture after the meeting.

    “We cooperate openly in all the areas but we have found a way to cooperate with each other behind the scenes in security,” he said without elaborating, according to AFP.

    The US has the largest contingent at this year’s five-day show, held at an air base on Bangalore’s northern outskirts, with 64 companies including Boeing, followed by France, Britain, Russia and Israel.

    The Kalyani Group, established in the mid-1960s, is a privately held Indian multi-national conglomerate, focused on four primary sectors: Engineering Steel, Automotive & Non-Automotive Components, Renewable Energy & Infrastructure and Specialty Chemicals. The Group has an annual turnover of over $2.5 billion, with over 10,000 employees, and is a market leader in all its respective business segments. Rafael develops and manufactures advanced defense systems for the Israeli Defense Forces and the defense establishment, as well as for foreign customers around the world. The company offers its customers a diversified array of innovative solutions at the leading edge of global technology, from underwater systems through naval, ground, and air superiority systems to space systems. Rafael is the largest employer in Northern Israel with over 7,000 employees. Rafael is Israel’s second largest defense company, with 2013 sales of $2 billion, an order backlog of $4.3 billion and a net profit of $101 million.]]>