War Profiteer of the Month: Elbit Systems
Elbit Systems is one of the world's largest defence electronics manufacturers and integrators. Established in 1967, and based in Haifa, Israel, Elbit employs 11,000 people worldwide. It supplies the military, navy and air force in the occupation of Palestine, and has profited greatly from Israel's numerous attacks and assaults on the Palestinian and Lebanese people. Gaza and southern Lebanon in particular serve as testing grounds for Elbit's weapons and technology, as it continually develops and enhances its products based on the expertise gained by the attacks on the people in this area.
Elbit and its various subsidiaries contribute directly to two of the most insidious facets of the occupation: the indiscriminate assault on civilian population, through the provision of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, better known as drones) and other military equipment to Occupation forces; and the ever-tightening ghettoization of the west bank, through the provision of surveillance and electronics systems along the Apartheid Wall and settlements.
Like all Israeli firms operating in the military technology sector, endless war and occupation create valuable marketing opportunities. Elbit UAVs, for instance, can be sold on the global market as "battle tested" devices, significantly increasing their appeal and leading to their adoption by a number of international military. In the same vein, experience gained from the building and maintenance of the Wall in the West Bank directly contributed to Elbit winning a contract to provide technology for the US-Mexico border wall.
Early Years – A division within Elron
Elbit Systems was founded in 1966 by Elron Electronic Industries (TASE: ELRN), which combined the existing expertise within the Israel Ministry of Defense-Research Institute in special computer design with Elron's experience in electronic product design, manufacture and management (initially under the name Elbit Computers). Elbit steadily expanded developing and producing logistic-support weapon delivery and navigation systems for most Israeli aircraft, establishing a combat avionics package for the IAI Lavi fighter aircraft, and producing a fire-control system for the Merkava tank.
1996 IPO on NASDAQ
In 1996, Elbit spun off into three independent companies:
- Elbit Medical Imaging NASDAQ: EMITF - During 1999 to 2000 Elscint (Another affiliate of Elron) and Elbit Medical Imaging sold their imaging activities to General Electric Medical Systems and to Picker (now part of Philips Medical Systems) for approximately $600 million.
- Elbit Systems – Created as the defence electronics arm of Elbit, the company had an Initial public offering on the NASDAQ stock market and finished its first day of trading at a price of $7.75 (on 25 August 2009 it reach an all time high of $70.69).
- Elbit - which focused on communications activities and in 1999 led the consortium that founded Partner Communications Company Ltd., Israel's first GSM operator NASDAQ: PTNR. In 2002 Elbit was merged into Elron. Elron sold its shares in Partner during 2003-2006 for approximately $160 million.
Merger with El-Op
In 2000 Elbit Systems merged with El-Op (a company controlled by the current Chairman, Michael Federmann), creating the largest non governmental defence electronics company in Israel and increasing Elbit Systems' value which later in 2004 enabled Elron to sell its shares in Elbit Systems for approximately $200 million. Following the merger with El-Op, Michael Federmann became the largest shareholder in the combined group.
Elbit's major subsidiaries and affiliated companies include Elbit Systems Electro-Optics Industries Elop (Elop), Cyclone Aviation Products (Cyclone), Tadiran Communications, Silver Arrow, Ortek, and Elisra. Among products manufactured by Elbit are the Enhanced Tactical Computer and the Elbit Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicle.
The Aeroeletronica (AEL) is a Brazilian company that has more than two decades of experience on the defense industry. In 2001, the AEL has become part of the Elbit Systems Group.
Elbit also owns several companies in the United States through its American subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America (ESA):
- EFW in Fort Worth, Texas (the EFW facility also houses ESA's home office) o EFW manufactures various components for the F-16, V-22, and Bradley Fighting Vehicle, among other programs.
- IEI in Talladega, Alabama (formerly International Enterprises, Inc.)
- Kollsman in Merrimack, New Hampshire o Kollsman is a subcontractor to Boeing on SBInet, a high-tech security system for the U.S.-Mexico border in conjunction with the United States Department of Homeland Security.
- Talla-Com in Tallahassee, Florida
- Innovative Concepts, Inc. (ICI) in McLean, Virginia
- VSI in San Jose, California (a joint venture with Rockwell Collins, formerly known as Vision Systems International)
In 2005 Elbit set up a joint venture company in the UK with Thales, UAV Tactical Systems Ltd (U-TacS), developing the British Army Watchkeeper WK450. On 7 December 2007 it was announced that QinetiQ LSE: QQ. will join the programme as a sub-contractor to provide testing services at ParcAberporth, West Wales.
AE Electronics S.A. Bacau was founded in 1998 as a joint venture company with S.C. Aerostar S.A. (Romania) 
On september 3 the Norwegian Pension Fund's ethical council decided to sell the fund's stocks in Elbit due to the corporations supply of surveillance systems for the Israeli West Bank barrier.
Elbit designs and supplies integrated UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) for a range of applications. They design and manufacture a variety of UAV platforms, including the Hermes and Skylark families of UAVs. Elbit also design and supply command and control ground station elements that can be adapted for various types of UAS. Supplies UAS training systems with capabilities to simulate payload performance, malfunctions and ground control station operation. Designs and supplies engines, data links, stabilized electro-optic payloads and electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT) payloads for UAS. The UAS technology has also been applied to unmanned ground vehicle and unmanned surface vessel activities described below in this annual report.
Military Aircraft and Helicopter System
Elbit supplies a comprehensive portfolio of advanced airborne electronic and electro-optic systems and products to military aircraft manufacturers and end users. The systems and products are designed to enhance operational capabilities and extend aircraft life cycles. The military airborne systems are compatible with emerging net-centric concepts supporting enhanced situational awareness, faster decision making and optimal response. The airborne C4ISR solutions provide pilots with data, communications and real-time situation pictures, as well as the ability to share mission-critical data with ground and naval platforms, thus enhancing joint, effective operations between air to air, air to ground, manned and unmanned platforms via common avionics and C4I solutions.
Elbit's naval systems include naval combat and C4I management systems, shipboard combat system integration, naval electro-optic observation systems, naval tactical trainers, submarine and surface electronic support measurement systems, shipboard SIGINT including COMINT and ELINT systems, shipboard decoy countermeasure launching systems and unmanned surface vessels.
Elbit and the EU
Using the pretext of fighting terrorism, the EU has decided in recent years that arms companies are eligible to receive funding for “security research”. Ten of the 45 initial projects described by the EU as “security research” have involved Israeli companies, academic or state institutions.
Elbit, the largest private arms company in Israel, is taking part in a project called CAPECON (Civil Applications and Economical Effectivity of Potential UAV Configurations). Its objective is to deliver a blueprint for flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in civilian airspace by 2015.