March 25, 2002

Israeli high-tech industries have benefited from technology transferred from the Air Force and other defense forces.The new Israel Air Force Center, part think-tank equivalent of the Rand Corp., part media, resource and history center, will open this June in Herzliya.

The Center will tell the story of Israel’s emergence as a world leader in science and technology, focusing on such issues as Israel’s contribution to space travel and its partnerships with other nations in pioneering efforts in aviation security and counter-terrorism.

The Center is sponsored by the Israel Air Force Association, established by former Air Force commanders, and the Neemaneem, a worldwide coalition of supporters and financial backers. It will showcase the link between the Israeli Air Force, its veterans, the people of Israel, and members of an international community committed to improving quality of life through science and the peaceful applications of space technology.

Sponsors have established major research chairs at the Center, including one in aviation security, covering a wide range of issues designed to aid decision-makers and policy-makers in their efforts to strengthen the economy, maintain security and advance human knowledge.

Technology developed in the defense industry has been not only key to the survival of Israel, but the flourishing high-tech industry, leading to the nickname “Silicon Wadi” for Israel’s high-tech region. Israel ranks third worldwide in the number of tech companies listed on the Nasdaq exchange. Only the United States and Japan have more patents registered per capita, and Israel has the highest percentage of engineers in the workforce (135 per 10,000 employees) in the world.

The training young Israelis receive in the Defense Forces prepares them for high-tech innovations. The brightest 18-year-olds (the Air Force accepts less than 25 percent of it’s applicants) are given meticulous instruction on some of the most advanced military projects in the world.

Israel’s first astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, now in training with NASA in Houston, will make history when he leaves for the International Space Station on a shuttle mission later this year.

Ramon, a fighter pilot and former head of the operational requirements department for the entire IAF, was selected to go into space as part of a U.S.-Israel agreement to further cooperation between NASA and the Israel Space Agency and to include “educational activities, scientific research and the development of practical applications in the peaceful use of space for the benefit of people around the world.”

Israel has already made important contributions toward improving inter-satellite communications, employing space as a platform for research into embryo development and osteoporosis, monitoring pollution and mapping geology, soil and vegetation in semi-arid environments.

Ramon’s research mission, called the Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment and directed by professors at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, will study the effects of dust particles in space on global weather patterns.

The heritage of the Jewish people passed from generation to generation preserves its existence and multi-cultural unity. Similarly, the IAF preserves its heritage and perpetuates its legacy. At the Center, the general public and youth in particular will learn IAF’s history, touching human and personal stories, major milestones and missions and, above all, absorb the unique spirit which is embodied in the IAF.

The Center will feature advanced interactive audio-visual facilities, as well as a simulator where famous air battles and missions can be virtually re-enacted.

Part of the technology for the new generation flight simulator came from the Israel Aircraft Industry, the multi-billion-dollar entity that takes F-16 fighters purchased in the United States and retrofits them with Israeli-made avionics.

The Center also features an 800-seat theater and 300-seat lecture hall. The building is dynamic architecturally, with a wing-shaped roof that makes it look like it’s ready to take off.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director