Elbit Scaling Back UAV Division

Elbit Systems is moving workers from its unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturing division due to a decline in its backlog of orders. About 100 employees are leaving the division for other positions within the company. Elbit Systems explains that nobody is being fired.

The UAV division employs 800 of Elbit Systems' total workforce of 12,000.

Elbit Systems makes small- and medium-sized remotely piloted vehicles. The company lost a $350 million Brazilian contract to Israel Aerospace Industries late last year. Also, negotiations to supply UAVs to a certain "eastern" state have dragged on.

Turkey has purchased Israeli UAVs in the past, and the hope in Israel was that it would continue to do so. But with the souring of strategic relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, Turkish defense officials began sending feelers to American UAV manufacturers.

As reported in TheMarker on Sunday, Turkey recently took delivery of the final four Israeli Heron UAVs out of the 10 it ordered back in 2004. The first six of the UAVs, built by IAI, Elbit Systems and Turkish partner Aselsan, were delivered in March, after a delay of over two years.

Elbit Systems' management issued a response, saying that "the mobilization of employees within Elbit systems is a routine procedure. We often mobilize employees and executives between departments, including the UAV department. This is not an unusual occurrence in the company; in fact it is the implementation of years-long company policy. We are proud of this policy and we've encouraged, and will continue to encourage, mobilization of gifted employees between positions and departments, in order to continue granting them the opportunity to develop careers and disseminate knowledge within the company. The number of Elbit employees will continue to grow this year, as it does every year, and we foresee a bright future for the UAV department."