JERUSALEM — Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has chosen a retired Israeli Navy colonel as its new CEO, the company announced Wednesday.

The board of directors appointed Yoav Turgeman for the position, but final approval must come from Israeli’s defense and regional cooperation ministers as well as a committee dedicatd to reviewing such appointments.

Turgeman joined Israel Aerospace Industries in 2006 after retired as a colonel from the Israeli Navy. His last position with the service was the head of its combat systems department.

He held several positions in IAI, including as head of the Arrow air defense system program and of the company’s anti-aircraft plant. He most recently served as CEO of IAI subsidiary Elta Systems, a role he took on in 2018. Elta manufactures radars for the Rafael-made Iron Dome and David’s Sling air defense systems as well as the Trophy active protection system.

The board chose Turgeman over three serving vice presidents at Rafael: Yuval Miller, head of the air and intelligence division; Ran Gozli, head of the land and sea division; and retired Brig. Gen. Fini Jungman, head of the air defense division.

Turgeman will replace retired Gen. Yoav Har-Even, who served as Rafael’s CEO for the past eight years. Har-Even announced in May he would step down from the role.

Har-Even declined to comment on his professional future when asked by Defense News.

Unlike Har-Even and his predecessor, Yedidia Yaari, Turgeman is stepping into the executive position with defense sector experience, having strengthened Elta’s cyber, autonomous combat vehicle and patrol vehicle business at home and abroad.

Rafael is the 34th largest defense company in the world, according to Defense News’ Top 100 list, which ranks firms based on their defense-related revenue. The company made $3.4 billion in defense-related revenue in 2022, a 13% increase from the year before.

However, Rafael, like other major defense companies in Israel, is facing a labor shortage due to the activation of about 1,700 of its employees into the reserves force amid the Israel-Hamas war, coupled with the evacuation of about 250 employees from their homes near the font lines. According to Rafael’s recruiting website, there are currently 198 vacancies.

Tzally Greenberg is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has experience reporting on economic affairs as well as defense and cyber companies.

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