Survive and Tell (cont.)
Ground RADAR for Intelligence purposes
During the War of Attrition in the Golan Heights, following the Yom Kippur War,
operations of the Syrian forces, especially at night, caused Intelligence
Throughout the day, observation was executed via an optical device up to a
range of approx. 10 km. During Raful's, GOC Northern Command, meeting with BG
Uzi Eilam, Chief of R&D and myself, he asked Uzi to quickly supply him with an
observation system that would also be able to function at night and at a
distance of 50-60 Km.
I returned to my office and that very same evening summoned Yaacov Paz,
Marketing Manager of Elta, and Dr. Nino Levy, then Chief Engineer of Elta, to
my office. I asked them if they could supply, as soon as possible, a suitable
radar system that would answer Raful's requirements. They answered that they
could possibly modify the existing "Dagon" RADAR, a marine RADAR
system, to a ground RADAR system by adding a M.T.I. (Moving Target Indicator)
a device that distinguishes moving objects. For this purpose, they would
need a RADAR and a budget. I attained this RADAR from the Navy and allocated
them a budget, but stipulated that I needed quick results, not only on paper.
A computer at the Defense Board issues the codes for classified projects and
exercises. In this instance, the computer offered us the code name "Fruit
Of The Earth". I said that Raful, an agriculturist, would appreciate this
name. A week later I received an intermediate report that there was a good
chance of accomplishing the requirements and, about one month later, we were
ready with a trial model. (My assistants on the subject of RADAR were Dr.
Menashe Simchi and Captain Robi Shechter). We moved the RADAR ("improved
engineering model") to the Golan Heights and it remained there because the
Northern Command insisted on keeping it.
Following the success of this trial radar system, the development was completed
and Elta produced additional units for the IDF, which are still used to this
day. Elta also exported similar versions with much success.
A young lieutenant called Zeev Bauman served in the Optronics branch. Zeev,
graduate ROTC (academic reservist), had studied for his first and second
academic degrees at the Hebrew University, in Jerusalem, with Prof. Shaul
Yatsiv. Prof. Yatsiv informed me of Bauman's genius and how essential it was
for him to complete his doctorate studies, because he was one of a kind and,
being that he was young, meant it was the right time for him.
Zeev's second academic degree was in the field of high power LASER. Zeev
enlightened me on the fascinating secrets of LASER and described at length the
potential it had for diverse utilization, both in civil and, specifically,
military spheres. Zeev showed me many articles about the activities in colleges
and laboratories of the Defense Departments around the world. I asked him to
write a proposal for research and development of High Power LASER systems. Zeev
worked diligently and, six months later, gave me a book comprising of 300 pages
in which he presented a detailed description of the LASER theory, ways for
implementing various outputs and different wavelengths. I sat with him and
discussed the details over the coming weeks and we drew up a Staff Paper as
well as a work plan and budget. I presented all of the material to the Deputy
Chief Scientist, Yedidia Shamir, for his assessment and professional opinion.
Once I had received his blessing, accompanied by a few remarks and important
recommendations, I gave the corrected, improved and fully documented Staff
Paper to the Chief of R&D, Brigadier General Uzi Elam.
The book also apparently impressed BG Uzi Elam, because he transferred the
Staff Paper, as it is called in the army, together with his recommendation to
the Minister of Defense, Shimon Peres, and his staff. Accordingly, a meeting
was set to take place on Monday at 08:30 hours.
I was very nervous on the night prior to the meeting and presentation to
Minister Shimon Peres. I practiced my speech and how I would appear before him
over and over again. I had never had a chance to speak with him beforehand,
apart from the dinner with the Nigerian Government and my visit to the homes of
Ben Gurion and Moshe Dayan.
Lieutenant Zeev Bauman took the matter much more lightly. I arrived at the
office a little earlier than usual, at 08:00 hours, and the telephone was
already ringing "angrily". It was the Minister's office. They asked
why I had not reported for the meeting that had been changed to 08:00 hours. I
grabbed Zeev and the material, some of it on slides, and we ran to the Minister
of Defense's Conference Room.
We entered the packed room. Uzi Elam earned time in order to allow us to
organize ourselves for the presentation. I managed to discern the Chief of
Staff, Mota Gur, the General Manager of the Ministry of Defense, Prof. Pinhas
(Siko) Zussman and the Chief Scientist, Prof. Yoval Neeman, sitting in the room.
Also participating in the meeting were the ex-Chief Scientist and the President
of the Technion, Brigadier General (Res.) Amos Horev, Major General Israel Tal
and many others, economists and financiers.
Uzi Elam tried to gain time till I arrived and when he saw me he announced that
Colonel Shalom Eitan, Chief of Electronic Systems And Electronic Warfare, would
present the project. I opened my lecture with the technical aspects of the
LASER and described it via impressive terminology, such as "coherent"
"monochromatic", etc. I explained the issue of monochromatic in
simple terms, which sufficed for the Minister. But with regards to his
question, "What is coherent?" I became tongue-tied, because I had to
explain unknown things doubled with other unknown things. I said that coherent
is to be in phase and, afterwards, completed the explanation by saying that it
was at the same time and coordinated, together and similar. This explanation
was not adequate for Shimon Peres. I was so embarrassed and, in consequence,
was not able to give a simple answer.
At this awkward moment, Prof. Yuval Neeman came to my rescue and said,
"Look Shimon, in China there are one billion Chinese people. If each of
them got on to a table one meter high and then jumped, if and when he/she
pleased, nothing would happen to the earth. But if these same Chinese people
jumped of the table together, at the same time and at the same phase
(coherent), according to one of Mau's commands, something would happen to the
earth and even Israel would feel it".
Even if I had thought of such a simple explanation, I would never have dared to
use it. Only those with extended knowledge of such complicated things knew how
to explain in such simple terms. As in the past, I was sorry that I had still
not acquired the ability to explain complex issues in a simple manner.
After this embarrassing moment, I made a note to myself to learn and try harder
to adapt an unpretentious manner of speech, render simple explanations and not
to prove that I know how to complicate matters. I took the fact that I was not
able to explain the issue to the Minister of Defense, in the presence of a long
list of important people, whom I greatly admired, so much to heart that, later
on, every time I came across a person who spoke clearly and eloquently, my
reaction was very often rude.
All of those present discussed the issue. There were those who expressed their
opinion, and all of them recommended to approve the plan that I had presented,
which was pretentious and expensive. I presented as it was recommended, with
several alternatives. They all went for the most ambitious and expensive
I left that meeting weary yet satisfied, but with an empty feeling. I did not
expect the plan to be approved without objection or without somebody refuting
For a long time, without being able to explain it to myself, I felt something
had occurred similar to the story "The King's Clothes". The issue was
too serious and the approved budget was too large to have been passed first
time and without debate.
My first visit to the USA
During my service at R&D, I acted as Technical Project Manager within the
framework for exchange of information with the American Defense Forces.
Within this position, I had written contact with my counterparts and we
transferred written information and visited each other. They visited the IDF
and the Laboratories of our Defense Force and we visited them. The contact with
the American R&D institutions gave me many opportunities to become acquainted
with the work methods of large, organized development institutions and, mainly,
project management and control.
My first visit to the USA, on the subject of electronic warfare, took place in
May 1973. The delegation was comprised of Brigadier General Shlomo Inbar, Chief
Signal and Electronics Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Yossef Barnea, an officer
from the signal and electronics corps, Lieutenant Colonel Egon Ron, the Chief
of the Technical Branch at that unit and myself, Colonel Shalom Eitan, Chief of
Electronics And Electronic Warfare (and Optronics) at the R&D unit. This was my
first visit to the States and I was very excited about the trip. All the other
participants of the delegation had spent time in the States.
Yossef and Agon had studied for their Masters degree at the "Brooklyn
Poly" and Shlomo Inbar had visited many times, both on behalf of the
Signal corps and prior to being appointed Chief Signal and Electronics Officer,
as Commander of the Sigint and Commint Unit.
During this visit, we stayed at army bases and visited labs in a number of
American states. We visited Fort Manmouth, New Jersey, the Pentagon in
Washington DC, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Huachuca in Arizona and Fort Bliss in
Texas (where we were joined by Lieutenant Colonel Humik Dayagi who was in
charge of the electronic warfare division in the Air Force).
LtR: Lt.Col Egon Ron, Lt.Col. Joseph Barnea, escort officer, BGen Shlomo Inbar
Col. Shalom Eitan, Lt.Col. Nahum Dayagi, Lt.Col.Yaakov Granot
In view of the
limited time schedule and in order to demonstrate a congenial atmosphere, the Americans
granted us the use of a helicopter that flew us from the Boston Airport to the
top security base near Boston. We met a large number of army personnel and
citizens, both at the laboratories and the operational units. At the weekends
we traveled in a hired car, and that is how we were able to visit the Grand
Canyon, the Hoover Dam and Los Vegas.
The visit took place in the month of May. At the time that the Egyptian army
was holding an enormous exercise, which the Israeli Intelligence assessed as a
deployment that could develop into an offensive attack.
The IDF mobilized reservists and, accordingly, we very nearly interrupted our
trip in order to return to Israel. When it emerged that the Egyptians had
changed the nature of the deployment, it was decided that we would continue our
I could not get over the power and size of the United States of America and
especially the order and organization of the visit that had been coordinated in
such an exemplary manner, right up to the finest of details. Lieutenant Yaacov
Granot, Assistant Attaché for R&D, had organized the trip and
accompanied us on weekdays. On the weekends he flew home to Washington. During
this trip, I spent the weekend at the home of my cousin, Miriam Spectorman
Simpson in Queens, N.Y. whom, for many years, I had kept in my heart the
affection I felt for her, and at the home of Dr. Peck who lived in Mahwah, N.J.
The second visit in 1974 was on the subject of night vision, following the Yom
Kippur War. The delegation was comprised of Colonel Joshua (Josh) Rosen,
Lieutenant Colonel Jacky Hezkia, Dr. of Physics at RAFAEL, an Ordnance Corps
Officer and, of course, myself as Head of the mission. This trip was of greater
importance, especially for me, because we were exposed to immense databases and
we conveyed to them that if they would not provide us with the relevant
technology, Infra Red detectors for passive night vision and in particular for
Air to Air missile sensors), we would have no choice but to invest unnecessary
resources to develop it ourselves. I hinted to them that we had proven our
aptitude for this sphere at the universities. I established contacts that were
crucial for my job at R&D and for my service a few years later in Washington.
Jacky Hezkia was Deputy Commander of the brigade that fought at the Golan
Heights. He gave a lecture at Fort Hood, Texas, about his night combat
experience in the armored brigade. His English was very limited and primitive.
I tried to teach him how to tell about the battle, but when he began to speak
in front of hundreds of armored corps personnel, he forgot all he had learnt
and spoke in his regular voice using his limited vocabulary. The rest of the
delegation felt very uncomfortable about his speech, which went as follows
(imagine an Indian American, during the American expansion to the west,
standing in front of you and saying):
see nothing, here tanks come close
big noise we no shoot.
Tanks come very close we BOOM BOOM BOOM
the Syrian go in the behind, we
safe. See night very important"
The officers burst out into hysterical laughter and clapped hands in rhythm, as
customary at a successful performance. We were very embarrassed but, in fact,
he had won their heart. They opened up, bombarded him with questions to find
out more details and, in consequence, became very cooperative.
In view of this experience, Jacky repeated his performance a number of times
and with the same success. In spite of the fact that Jacky learnt a little
English during our stay, we did not allow him to change the text, the grammar
or the pronunciation.
As before, I visited my cousin Mara (Spectorman) Simpson during this trip. She
lived with her two daughters, Yardena and Liora, and her husband William (Bill).
In New York, I met my former deputy, Yochanan Wiesenfroind, who had in the
meantime immigrated to the United States and had been appointed Manager of the
Psychiatric Ward at the Belleview Hospital. Yochanan, who had divorced his
wife, also a doctor from Vienna, lived in New York with his daughter, Anat. He
invited me to his apartment. I came with Yaacov Hezkia and Josh.
The Facsimile Machine arrives for the first time in Israel
During the Yom Kippur war, a number of reservists from the R&D unit were called
up and some of them volunteered without being recruited. There were those that
said that they had been embarrassed to stay at home and were prepared to do
anything as long as they were allowed to wear the uniform. One of the most
distinguishable was Dr. Ezra Zeev.
Amongst those that requested to serve reserve duties for reasons concerning
livelihood were Rafi Sirkis, who had been fired from his job by Colonel (Res.)
Nutek Eldar, who had taken over the Heiman Shamir Company.
Rafi, a very agreeable, amicable and friendly man, had vast knowledge and
experience in many spheres. He told us of the wonders of a machine that, at
that time, was still being developed the facsimile. I was enthusiastic
about the idea that one could transfer printed and handwritten documents,
including drawings and blueprints, via telephone lines. I suggested that Rafi
write a pamphlet describing the system, its advantages and disadvantages and
the forecast of its technological development. During the Yom Kippur War, the
Air Force Personnel were convinced of the attributes of the machine and
purchased, as far as I remember, about 14 machines from the DACOM Company,
which Rafi had begun to represent in Israel. The pamphlet, with his dedication,
is still in my possession and I recently looked at it by chance and saw how
Rafi's fertile imagination with regard to the development of the machine was
The Electronics Industry
I visited factories in Israel to become acquainted with their potential. I
tried to personally meet with each engineer dealing in development activities.
I was received in each and every factory openly and politely and they all tried
to impress me with their capabilities and achievements.
This was the situation at "Elbit", at A.E.L. (now Elisra), Eljim,
Elta, E.C.I., at Telrad, Scitex, Elscint and "Tadiran".
The only exception was "RAFAEL". At RAFAEL, I felt their
condescending attitude as soon as I reached the entrance. The entrance
procedures were improper, especially in view of the fact that a girl soldier
came to receive a guest at the gate.
At Elta, they tried a similar "ploy" once, or perhaps it had been by
mistake they made me wait next to the Security Guard for half an hour.
My visit had been prearranged and I arrived on time, but I do not know the
reason why my name had not been written on the list of visitors. After half an
hour, I returned to my office.
Afterwards, the entire "Elta" management came to me to try to appease
me. I was not angry at all, but thought that they were not interested in
I established an excellent working relationship with Elta and wanted to work
there after I left the army. I utilized my relationships with personnel in
various companies in order to promote issues and allocate development budgets.
I also assisted companies to find solutions for specific problems by
approaching experts in the relevant fields. Thus, for instance, I assisted
"Tadiran" to purchase the services of Dr. Yosef Shapira on the
subject of electromagnetic compatibility. Prior to my visit, Tadiran had not
been aware of the fact that they had a problem in this sphere.
One day, after I had been acting as Chief of the Electronics And Electronic
Warfare Department for over two years, I was invited for an
"Official" visit to the Tadiran offices. They gave me a guided tour
of the production lines and Dr. Avraham Harel, who was an engineer and Chief
Scientist of the Company, accompanied me and gave explanations about the
At the end of the visit, I was ushered into the General Manager's office,
Elkana Kaspi, who was stretched out on his armchair and smoking a thick and
aromatic cigar. Elkana made me feel that I was very honored to have been
invited into his office, which was considered "sacred" by the Israeli
industry. He endeavored to inform me that not everyone receives such a
reception and expected me to be very impressed. He even expected to hear me
compliment the Company which I had spent a half a day visiting.
I greatly disappointed him because I was not at all impressed by his
"bragging". I expressed my astonishment that I had not seen one
computer in all of the plant and no one had mentioned the word
"software", which implies how backward the company was. At the same
time, I told him about a company called Tekem, (Advanced Technology Ltd.) and
that I thought it was worthwhile to buy shares in this company so that Tadiran
enter the modern age of sophisticated industries.
With Uzi Elam's influence, technical courses were introduced to the R&D
I only had the chance to give one lecture and I dedicated the entire lecture to
optronics, a subject I was very enthusiastic about. I loved everything about
this subject and I spent as much time as possible learning about it.
At the Staff and Command School, I gave a lecture on the subject of LASER and
gave a demonstration via a portable green Laser. I had brought unprocessed
material to produce optical fibers and a 25 mm micro-channel plate for
amplifying starlight from one of my visits to the USA. I gave a detailed
explanation how this phenomenon occurs. The S&C officers (Majors and Lt.
Col's), who are usually skeptical and critical about guest lecturers, showed
great interest and, it seemed to me, that they fell in love with the subject of
optronics, especially as they could envision its use on the battle field.
I explained about infrared waves and about the technique for thermal vision. I
did not have the relevant apparatus to show them, but told them how it looked,
because I had seen such a machine in action during my visit to the Night Vision
Laboratory (N.V.L.) in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
During this year, when I was so actively involved with optronics, a New
Immigrant arrived in Israel from Russia. His name was Victor Polski, a
physicist, renowned for his Zionist activities and his struggle to reach
Israel. Victor was friendly with Prof. Yuval Neeman, who saw himself as being
the Russian physicist's guardian. Victor told us that he had worked at a
factory in Russia that developed and manufactured tubes for amplifying
starlight generation A'. I wanted to establish an infrastructure for tubes that
would be the basis for all apparatuses in Israel.
I recommended that a factory for restoring generation B' tubes be established
and, over time, perhaps even produce, or go straight into producing Generation
C'. The process was complex. Even though there were many who objected, the
infrastructure was established and, now, Victor Polski manages an outstanding
factory in Katsrin on the Golan Heights (The company is called
"Or-Leil"). My heart was full of joy when Victor informed me of his
personal and the factory's achievements, the factory that he had established
"Rehovot Instruments", owned and managed by Prof. Joe Yaffe,
supported itself financially, in the main, from development funds derived from
my department. The factory dealt in a number of other spheres, such as security
fences, marine mines, but the majority of its income and expertise was in view
of their activities for developing passive (thermal) vision systems. The
initial expertise was obtained from the HUGHES Company, following the
acquisition of an elementary sensor and, with the help of this sensor, the
P.W.S. (Perimeter Warning System) was developed. Prof. Yaffe demonstrated the
device to us at his home in Old Jaffa and we were able to see a "man"
moving in the night along the breakwater. According to this expertise and the
funding from the R&D Department, and while utilizing the sensor that was
developed by Prof. Kidron, we entered into the real project - a thermal
operations system, most vital for the Navy.
The development, under the guidance of the Navy, progressed well but I saw that
the factory could not exist from this project alone and, certainly, the R&D
Department could not finance the factory indefinitely. I was convinced that the
thermal vision technology was vital for combat in obscure conditions and for
detecting a source radiating heat. I had to ensure that the preliminary
infrastructure of the "Rehovot Instruments" be maintained and, even,
developed. The Ministry of Defense did not have the power to expand its hold
within the defense industries at that time and, therefore,
"privatization" was instigated. Prof. Yaffe, owner of the company,
knew that he had to find a strategic partner or, in the worst case, sell his
company. I made efforts to help him.
Tadiran acquired "Rehovot Instruments"
"Tadiran" was looking for ways to extend their activities and enter
into the optronics business. I recommended that they inquire whether the
"Rehovot Instruments" was for sale or if they were willing to acquire
a strategic partner. This idea, which had been discussed prior to our meeting,
was realized. They began to check into the matter and when they found that this
was an appropriate measure, they approached the General Manager of
"Koor", Meir Amit, to approve the acquisition. Meir Amit was not on
very good terms with Elenka Kaspi and this presented an obstacle for the
The "Tadiran" management asked me to accompany them and give a
presentation to Meir Amit on the subject of optronics, thermal vision and the
potential of this field. A meeting was set for 8 a.m. at Meir Amit's office on
floor of the "Koor" building. The R&D management was aware of the
assistance that had been rendered to find a purchaser for the "Rehovot
The "Tadiran" personnel and myself arrived at the building at 7:45
a.m. and went up in the elevator. We waited for the General Manager of
"Koor" to arrive. At 8:10 a.m. one of Amit's assistants, Shalom Iron,
(Freddie Blum, ex Chief Artillery Officer and Assistant to the Chief of
Operations Branch) arrived out of breath and informed us that he had climbed
the stairs because the elevator was stuck and he did not know whether Amit was
in the elevator or whether he was climbing the stairs, as he himself had done.
Meir Amit arrived at around 8:25 a.m., sweating and out of breath and
apologized that we had been kept waiting for such a long time because of a
technical problem. A few minutes later, after a rest and small talk about
technical failures, I presented my stand. I do not know if it was my
presentation or other factors that caused him to overcome his preliminary
objections, but Tadiran received his authorization to execute the deal. Tadiran
entered into the field of optronics via the purchase of "Rehovot
Instruments" and paved the way for purchasing the "El-Op"
Command & Control And Electronic Warfare-At Tadiran
Col. (Res.) Herut Zemach, who I had met during my military service, approached
me on a number of occasions on behalf of the Tadiran marketing department. He
was interested in me for three things each one concerning a different
field. The first issue was with regard to the "Zehavit" Project. The
codename "Zahavit" (named after Yaacov Ba'al Shem's daughter)
appeared in my work plan and referred to the issue of Command and Control. The
Signal Corps were leaders in this field. All over the world, people were
working on Command and Control systems but none of the armies around the world
had an operational Command and Control system for the ground forces. The main
problem was the difficulty in defining the specifications. Not one of the
armies agreed about what, how and which specification was needed in order to
receive the data. Communications, meaning from a fighter level up to the level
of the intermittent army division and unreliable and uncoordinated data sources.
Each Brigade or Division Commander held a different opinion with regard to the
requirements and/or the character of the Command and Control system. The Navy
and Air Force, for whom the data runs from set bases or electronic systems,
such as RADAR and other computerized systems, were successful in establishing
Command and Control systems. The ground forces had only executed experiments
but had not gained any achievements.
I was very interested in developing a technological infrastructure, so that
when the day came and the definition would be finalized, the industry would be
able to offer a solution. Therefore, I decided to push forward and promote an
issue which was relatively easier to define and implement, a Command and
Control system on GHQ level. There was no operational logic to this decision,
but there was definitely technological justification.
We found an interesting combination of people who also wanted to be part of the
project. The Signal Corps appointed Colonel Zvi Amid to head the Project. The
GHQ decided to appoint Brigadier General Moshe Levy (called Moshe and a half
because of his height) head of operational department to concentrate the issue.
"Tadiran", together with the Hughes Company, won the tender for the
project. My condition was that there would be a leading Israeli Company working
together with an experienced American company as assistant chief contractor. I
assisted Zvi Amid with advisors such as Dr. Jules Finkel from the Weizman
Institute and as many other experts as he required, and he undertook the
mission quickly and efficiently. Herut Zemach headed "Tadiran"
activities. I had every confidence that he would turn every stone and make
every effort in order to promote the issue. Unfortunately, this project was
halted at quite an early stage, after I left the R&D. I never investigated the
reason why it was halted, but it seems to me that Zvi and "Tadiran"
wanted to jump too far too quickly. I had only wanted to initiate a pilot in
order to establish the technology. It was the extensive budget and Ezer
Weizman, Minister of Defense, which caused the closing of the project.
"Tadiran" was unable to benefit from this project and Herut Zemach
was frustrated. The State of Israel learnt quite a lot from these actions.
Young personnel encountered systems design approach. At the Weizman Institute
Computer Center- very interesting experiments were executed. Engineers
from the Signal Corps were learning how to deal with unconventional problems.
Production of Thermal Sensors
The second issue was the development and production of sensors. I wanted to
complete the development at the Technion, almost laboratorial production, and
then to transfer to industrial production lines. I interested Herut Zemach in
the project and, via him and others, also managed to interest the
"Tadiran" management. Together with the Acquisitions and Production
Authority (APA), I drew up a forecast of supplies for the Ministry of Defense,
according to the long-term production and equipment supply plans. The data,
even if only at the planning stage, was very impressive and aroused interest in
the industry. APA from the Ministry of Defense was interested in establishing
production capabilities for this sensitive item which was thought of, and still
is, as an issue of utmost strategic importance and it was, therefore, assigned
to one of the most senior persons (Israel HaMeiri). "Tadiran" secured
a permit for producing the sensors and received all the data that had been
developed at the Technion.
The project did not develop very well at "Tadiran", because the
Ministry of Defense did not stand by its purchasing obligations and RAFAEL, in
contrary to what had been agreed, simultaneously developed production
capabilities and was able to supply itself with the equipment it needed and
even competed with "Tadiran". In the end, after many years of
illogical competition, it was decided to merge the "Tadiran" and
The third issue was the sophisticated (RAS) Radiation Acquisition System. I
interested Herut Zemach in the system which was very close to his heart,
because he was the Navy's "Mr. Electronic Warfare" (in parallel to
Col. Yoske Naor of the Air Force). He had received the Israel Defense Prize for
his activities and it is possible to define him as one of the architects of the
Navy's great victory during the Yom Kippur War. RAS was a system being
developed by an American Company called Q.E.D. One of the owners of Q.E.D. was
the famous violinist, Isaac Stern. A number of excellent engineers worked at
the company and they offered us a sophisticated Elint system. The Air Force was
not interested in the system, but did not object to the development activities.
The Air Force appointed Heimik Deigi to manage the project. Heimik was head of
the "Andartah" Project, another sophisticated project at RAFAEL. In
view of financial problems, the uncertainty with regard to the agreement with
Q.E.D., and the lack of the Air Force's interest, it was decided to halt the
project in the States and the equipment that had been developed was brought to
Israel and stored at Air Force Electronics Depot 108. Herut Zemach, who wanted
to establish electronic warfare at "Tadiran", a sphere that had only
been modestly dealt with up till then, asked if I could help him. I suggested
that he receive - free of charge, gratis - the RAS system. This was on
condition that Tadiran invite the Systems Engineer, George Pearlman, to Israel
for a period of at least one year. Herut took the challenge, received the RAS
and invited Pearlman to come to Israel. Many "offspring" were born
from the RAS.
The work and activities at the R&D department were very exciting. The ability
to invite any person in the country to my office, and hear him lecture on his
sphere of activities, was very useful for me. I was able to learn more than I
ever could on a course. Here, I received private courses from the best people.
The many visits to the factories and laboratories helped me to become familiar
with the actual activities. I met very talented and interesting people¨
either by my invitation or theirs. I gained great satisfaction from the work at
the R&D and from meeting talented people with technological vision. The
experience I attained during those years was greater than the physical and
psychological effort. I loved my work and fully identified with it.
The Defense R&D Unit acted similarly to the Venture Capital Companies in the
late 80's and in the 90's. We invested, not for a profit, but for establishing
the necessary infrastructure for an independent advanced defense industry. The
industry will pay the dividends in better solutions for military challenges as
well as providing the forces with secret or strategic systems others refuse to
supply us with. A great byproduct, almost a windfall, was the development of a
strong defense industry exporting for billions of dollars to many countries.
The failures, which were not few in number, I suffered in silence and I did not
share my agony with anybody else. During the three years at R&D, I dealt with a
number of interesting and diverse subjects. Most of them cannot be referred to
even today because of their sensitivity. I learnt a lot and was sorry that I
had reached the development sphere so late in my in life and in my army career.
I was sorry that I had wasted so my years in the antiaircraft array, especially
after I had completed my studies at the Technion. My job at the 883
Battalion had also been rewarding, and I have no doubt that that I developed
personally at the R&D even more. I had contributed a great deal to the 883rd
Battalion, but more often than not, I gave more than I earned. The
antiaircraft array appreciated me, but did not like me enough to appoint me its
When there is a balance between contribution and reward, the general feeling is
much better. I received full compensation for my devotion and diligence to the
IDF since the War of Independence at the R&D. I have had more than my fair
share of luck in life, but sometimes I did not hold out my hand to grasp what
was offered to me. However, I did not miss the R&D opportunity.
The First Chief of R&D and founder was Brigadier General Itzhak Ya'akov
(Yatsa). He left the R&D after the first year of activities and was appointed
Chief Scientist of Haim Bar Lev's Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He had met
Haim Bar-Lev during the days of the "Palmach". Lt. General Tzu
(Former IDF Chief of the GHQ), who was Assistant Minister of Defense, held the
farewell party for Yatsa. The party was held in the garden of his home in
Zahala and two of Yasta's assistants were invited Yedidia Shamir and Uzi
Elam and, of course, all of the Department Heads.
The party was held on the eve of Rosh HaShana (Jewish New Years Eve), about ten
days prior to the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. It was a very enjoyable party
in a pleasant atmosphere and nobody imagined that ten days later a disaster
would befall Israel and that Dado, the Chief of Staff, a charming man, would
become a victim.
Uzi Elam was appointed Head of R&D and I loved working with him. His calm
attitude, instructions and remarks, which he always gave with a smile, never
left you wondering what he expected of you.
When, as Head of R&D, he interviewed me, I understood that he knew exactly how
I had first met Yatsa and he made it clear that he intended to send me to the
USA, as per my request, and even wrote in his memo that I would be Ya'acov
Granot's replacement. In the meantime a tragedy occurred and Ya'acov Granot's
son, a helicopter pilot, was killed.
The newly appointed Chief of Staff, Lt. General Mota Gur, the former defense
attaché in the USA, was very friendly with Ya'acov Granot and extended
his tenure for an additional year in order to help the family overcome their
tragedy. This was convenient for me because I wanted to serve at least an
additional year in the Electronic Systems And Electronic Warfare Department. A
year after Uzi Elam was appointed Head of R&D, it was decided, for some
incomprehensible reason, to appoint Shlomo Inbar Head of R&D and promote him to
the rank of Major General.
This came as a shock to many of us. Nobody could understand what had happened
and why Uzi, who had been very good at his job, had been dismissed.
Uzi was placed in a side room for a year and a half, a kind of exile, till he
was appointed to the prestigious position of Chairman of the Atomic Energy
Committee or Head of the Scientific Department.
Dr. Arie Lavi, Head of Missiles and Rockets, announced that he was leaving and
joining Yatsa at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. I informed Shlomo Inbar
of my agreement with Uzi Elam with regards to my leaving for Washington and
many others wished to transfer to new positions. Shlomo would not accept the
mass "desertion" and halted the shift of officers. He told me that he
did not intend to fulfill the agreement drawn up between Uzi Elam and myself
with regard to my leaving for the USA, because I was indispensable to the R&D
and he wanted me to manage the Electronic Systems And Electronic Warfare(and
My relationship with Shlomo Inbar passed a number of stages. During the period
of preparation for entering the Technion and during the studies, we had been
very good friends. Shlomo, who was not one of the brightest of students (an
understatement), did not have sufficient basic knowledge of physics and math,
and neither did I, which hindered us. Haim Niv and I helped him in his studies
and he received much more consideration than other students. Lieutenant Colonel
was a very respected rank and the Technion took this into consideration.
During the second year, Shlomo was in despair and prepared to leave the
studies. On one Thursday, a day he usually went home for the weekend, he
informed me that he was going home and did not intend to return because he
could not take the pace of the studies and the fail marks he had received up
till then. I made every effort to persuade him to change his mind and to
continue to make an effort because I felt that we were required in the IDF for
the transitional period, until the young and talented generation would be able
to take the command and us "oldies" would leave. I was apparently
able to convince him or perhaps it was Sara, his wife, who changed his mind. On
the Sunday following his dramatic announcement, Shlomo returned to his studies,
but did not forget the intervention, as you will see, a few years later. With
tremendous effort and with the help of his friends, Shlomo completed his
studies and was authorized Electricity Engineer.
About two years following his studies at the Technion, he was appointed a
position at the logistics Department at the GHQ and promoted to the rank of
Colonel. I was happy and proud that I finally had a friend who was Colonel.
A year later, he was appointed commander of one of the important units in the
Intelligence Corps. I only knew a little about what went on there, but I knew
that the technology was very advanced, that many engineers were enlisted to
this unit and that the work was very interesting.
I phoned him and asked for a meeting. He set the meeting for a few days later.
During the meeting, I explained to Shlomo that I was interested in receiving a
job within the engineering sphere in order to implement my operational
experience and my studies at the Technion. Shlomo made great efforts to explain
to me how I was not suitable for a job in his organization, that I lacked
knowledge, understanding and experience. He then complimented himself with
regard to the scope and level, so much so that I was embarrassed.
I knew that he was trying to fool me because I knew him well. The intensity and
earnestness with which he complimented himself and the attributes that he
ascribed himself nearly had me convinced. I returned home and told Rivka that
something had happened to Shlomo that I could not explain. I knew that I would
have to strike Shlomo from my list of friends. I never approached him again.
When I was appointed Chief of Electronic Systems and Electronic Warfare he
called to congratulate me. He was already Chief Signal and Electronics Officer
and had received the rank of Brigadier General. He invited me to his
headquarters and offered his cooperation. Shlomo organized a special course for
me to acquaint myself with the Signal Corps and explained to me how he had made
efforts to persuade Yatsa to choose me for the job. I tend to believe Yatsa's
version more than his.
And now, Shlomo Inbar, my friend from the Technion, who had twice protested his
"friendship", was halting my appointment as Senior Assistant Defense
Attache for R&D in Washington DC, in spite of Yatsa's and Uzi's promises. He
cancelled my job in Washington, a job that I had craved for three years.
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