Israeli Defense Contractor and Tech Firm Join Forces Over ‘Battlefield of the Future’

Israel Aerospace Industries and Matrix Defense will work together to bring AI to ballistic missiles in new research and development center

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Israel's Iron Dome system, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, intercepts rockets fired from Gaza Strip
Israel's Iron Dome system, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, intercepts rockets fired from Gaza StripCredit: AMIR COHEN/Reuters
Sagi Cohen
Sagi Cohen

Israeli defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries has announced the formation of a a new research and development center focused on artificial intelligence and the automatic identification of targets together with Matrix Defense. 

The center will be dedicated to what the companies term the battlefield of the future and make use of AI, machine learning and big data create “solutions that work with our space programs, satellites, defensive and offensive systems and warheads,” the companies said in a joint-statement. 

A defense contractor with some civilian aviation businesses, IAI is the largest state-owned company in Israel by number of employees. It builds anti-missile systems, drones and precision-guided weapons, mostly for export. It is also one of the two firms leading Israel's 2024 bid for a moonshot and is behind Israel's Iron Dome system. 

Boaz Levy, CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, and Moti Gutman, CEO of Matrix Credit: Israel Harari

Matrix Defense is a subsidiary of Matrix IT, an Israeli technology company working in the field of integrating and developing new technologies for the private and defense sectors. The company is publicly traded and employs over 10,000 workers. 

The IAI explain that AI-based systems will help human operators identify targets in a more efficient manner and thus help prevent human error. One area they note this will aid in is reading aerial photographers with the help of what is called computer vision and deep- or-machine learning. 

The center will bring in experts from the IAI’s innovation center and its business department alongside engineers from Matrix. 

The project is defined as a cooperation between the defense contractor and the tech company. However, the development will be led by the IAI and it will own all the information and products produced. These are intended for use in its space and ballistic missile department. Matrix’s teams will play a role in their development and the company will be paid for its involvement.

“Expanding out artificial intelligence capabilities will allow us to improve our ability and our performance on the battlefield,” said a spokesman for the the new center. 

Ron Barak, who heads Matrix’s AI department, said that “doing research and development with the IAI working shoulder to shoulder with Matrix Defense’s AI researchers will lead to real breakthroughs.”

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