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Israel’s Rafael acquires drone manufacturer Aeronautics

Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has acquired Aeronautics Ltd., one of the country’s leading developers of unmanned aerial systems, Rafael said on Tuesday, September 3.

The deal, which is set to be finalized in the coming days, would see Rafael own 50% of Aeronautics with the defense technology company’s partner, businessman Avichai Stolero, holding the other half.

“The move comes as part of Rafael long term strategy to evaluate and implement new areas of growth, including by M&A [mergers and acquisitions] of unmanned platform companies,” Rafael said Tuesday.

The sale valued at NIS 850 million ($240 million) was first announced in January but was in danger of being blocked by the Israeli government over objections to the price, as well as concerns about the partnership between Rafael and Stolero, a private investor.

Aeronautics will take part in some of Rafael’s projects. Aeronautics Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance drones are already in use by the militaries and homeland security agencies of 15 countries, including in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Chad and Iraq.

Rafael and Aeronautics earlier this year finalized a deal to develop and manufacture advanced drones based on the Orbiter family of small, tactical unmanned aerial vehicles.

They already cooperate on several other ventures and jointly own Israel-based Controp, which produces surveillance systems including thermal imaging cameras and electro optical infrared payloads.

The largest employer in northern Israel, Rafael had a record high $2.2 billion in sales in 2017. The company develops and manufactures advanced defense systems for the Israel Defense Forces and exports around the world. Asia, Europe, North America and South America account for approximately 46% of Rafael’s sales, according to the company.

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