Elbit Systems makes fighter jets feistier and soldiers' eyes sharper by supplying and upgrading defense electronics for airborne, space, land, and naval platforms, including fixed wing and helicopter support. Elbit's contracts include work on the F-15, F-16, F-18, Bradley A-3 fighting vehicle, and Israeli Merkava tank. Products include advanced weapons, helmet-mounted vision systems, cockpit management systems, unmanned airborne vehicles, communication systems, electronic warfare, and electro-optic systems. The company obtains some funding for research and development projects from the Government of Israel Office of the Chief Scientist. The US accounts for more than 30% of sales.
Elbit operates through five product groups: C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) Systems, 36% of sales; Airborne Systems, 34%; Land Systems, 14%; Electro-optic Systems, 11%; and Other, 5%. Pilots and infantry units use the company's C4ISR technology to obtain data and real-time imaging and for communications. C4ISR helps coordinate systems between air to air, air to ground, and manned and unmanned platforms.
Serving operations that range from a single sensor to a cockpit avionics suite, Airborne Systems integrates weapon, communications, navigation, electro-optic, and electronic warfare systems and works with net-centric technology for better awareness and decision making. Land Systems serves more than a dozen armored vehicle systems, providing services from modernization to maintenance. Electro-optic Systems focuses on direct infrared countermeasures systems, head-up displays, laser range finders, and aerial reconnaissance systems, among other products. The Other group includes non-defense engineering and production services.
Thanks mainly to a strong performance by Airborne Systems segments, Elbit's revenue rose 5% in 2011 compared with 2010. In the Airborne Systems segment, M7 Aerospace, acquired in 2010, provided a major contribution to the company's 2011 revenues. By segment, C4ISR's revenue decreased 2% in 2011 versus 2010. Airborne Systems soared 22% in 2011 compared with 2010. Land Systems went up 11% during the same period. Struggling with lower sales of reconnaissance systems and night vision products, Electro-optic Systems revenue declined 18% in 2011 compared with 2010. The Other category headed up 14%. Also in 2011 the company weathered a drop of 53% in net income in 2011 compared with 2010.
Along with the armed forces' shift in focus to low-intensity conflicts, homeland security, and cyber warfare, demand has grown for C4ISR and unmanned vehicles. In line with the needs of the defense electronics sector, Elbit has been concentrating on technologies related to information systems, intelligence gathering, situational awareness, precision guidance, all weather operations, training and simulation, and other functions.
Also while budgets are falling for the world's defense forces, Elbit's competitors have been consolidating into fewer but larger entities. To stay competitive in a climate of tighter budgets and bigger rivals, Elbit has been concentrating on its strengths of systems development, technological expertise, and background of combat-tested products. The company is also putting more stress on research and development as it attempts to anticipate its customers' needs in defense electronics.
Lucrative contracts have gone a long way in boosting the company's revenue. In 2012 Elbit announced a $603 million contract between its partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries and the Israeli Ministry of Defense to provide training for the Israeli Air Force. That deal follows a $280 million, 20-year contract in 2011 with the Israeli Ministry of Defense for the supplying, upgrading, and maintenance of communication equipment. The year before Elbit inked a $298 million deal with the Australian Department of Defense for the installation and support for command, control, and communications systems.
Elbit has also carefully selected its acquisitions to complement and expand its technological areas. Some of its more recent deals include the 2011 acquisition of the 30% of Elisra Electronic Systems it did not already own for a reported $67.5 million. Elisra, which develops electronic warfare and intelligence equipment, became an Elbit subsidiary. Also in 2011 Elbit increased its ownership in a US company, UAS Dynamics, to 100%. The company's Elbit Systems of America subsidiary acquired M7 Aerospace, a Texas-based aviation services provider, for a reported $85 million in late 2010. With the military contracts it brings with it, the acquisition reinforced Elbit Systems' relationships with the US government and opened doors to new commercial customers.
Also in late 2010 Elbit acquired Ares Aeroespecial e Defesa and Periscopio Equipamentos Optronicos. Both companies are based in Brazil and supply defense electronic systems to the Brazilian military. Earlier that year Elbit acquired defense subsidiaries -- Soltam (artillery maker), Saymar (vehicle armor), and ITL Optronics -- from parent company Mikal. Prior to that Elbit spent $46 million on the remaining interest that it didn't already own in Azimuth Technologies, which makes satellite GPS, optical measurement systems, and data communications systems for defense and civil applications. Elbit sees the acquisition as complementary to both its satellite navigation and electro-optics product offerings. It also bought the 49% remaining interest in Kinetics Ltd. that it didn't previously own for $110 million in cash. Kinetics and its wholly owned subsidiary, Real-Time Laboratories, make biological and chemical protection systems for combat vehicles and climate control systems for aerospace and military customers. – less