By Carl Zebrowski
Gideon Weiss, vice president of international business development at Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, will bring decades of experience working with Israel’s defense with him when he comes to the Lehigh Valley on Thursday, October 12, to talk to the major donors of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley.
Weiss will discuss the cutting-edge technology currently deployed and in development to safeguard Israel and to support general global security. The dinner event is the official kickoff of the Federation’s 2024 Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs.
Weiss has made an impact in the areas of air-to-air missiles and ballistic missile defenses as well as in cyber security and surveillance drones.
Rafael is renowned for its groundbreaking defense contributions to Israel, for pioneering critical systems such as Iron Dome, with its ability to intercept and destroy short-range missiles. Since its deployment in 2011, the renowned mobile air defense system has saved thousands of lives by neutralizing missiles headed toward Israeli targets.
Rafael is currently working with the American defense contractor Raytheon on David’s Sling, a network similar to Iron Dome that is able to defend against enemy planes and long-range missiles. It will also deal with drones, which have become a terrorist weapon of choice.
With new threats being developed all the time, Weiss will delve into how Rafael works to keep up and try to get ahead. “It’s always a struggle,” he said in a recent interview with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “It’s always the ability not just to see the next threat, but also to see how we can utilize the systems that we have already fielded and upgrade them.”
He offered the Iron Dome as an example of a continually evolving technology. “The Iron Dome system has been gradually maturing and getting more capabilities,” he told AIPAC.
Weiss’ discussion at the major donor event is likely to include some of the newest defense weaponry. One potential topic is the Trophy tank defense system. Weiss said “it’s like an Iron Dome for a tank,” responding immediately with a countermeasure when it detects an incoming threat. Another is the Iron Beam laser system. “We now plan to put it below the Iron Dome,” Weiss said, “to be able to get smaller threats and be able to reduce the cost of interception.”
Weiss’ close contact with defense technology began back in the 1980s, when he earned his pilot wings from the Israeli Air Force Flight Academy. Weiss went on to log 2,500 total flight hours in the cockpit of fighters, mostly American F-15s, before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2011.
The major donor event, at the Muhlenberg College Hillel, will begin with appetizers and drinks at 6:30 p.m. Dinner and Weiss’ presentation will follow.
The event is open to donors whose households are pledging $5,000 or more to the Federation’s 2024 campaign. RSVP by September 28 by clicking on the event on the calendar at jewishlehighvalley.org/calendar.