In defense of Israel
Weizmann alumna Dr. Avital Schrift
People behind the science
As director of missile systems of Israel’s Mabat missile factory, which belongs to the Missile and Space Systems Group of the Israel Aeronautics Industry (IAI), Dr. Avital Schrift supervises mostly classified projects.
At IAI, the largest security manufacturer in Israel, she is responsible for over 300 employees, leading a large variety of research, development, experimental, and missile manufacturing projects for use in sea, surface, and air.
Dr. Schrift received her PhD in the Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics of the Weizmann Institute of Science. “I did my PhD for the soul, because I loved the subject,” she says. Her doctoral thesis dealt with the cryptology, the art of encrypting and safeguarding information. After graduating, she joined ELTA Systems, an IAI subsidiary.
One of the projects she can talk about is the roaming “Harrop” missile. It is an advanced, economical missile - both in fuel and in manpower—which can stay airborne for up to six hours. During this timeframe, the missile acts like an unmanned vehicle, also known as a drone. A small camera in its front end gives a live feed to the control room, where an operator can monitor its position, alter its course, and change the target if necessary. This missile can be dispatched to unfamiliar areas, and beyond its obvious ballistic use, it is also utilized for deterrence and reconnaissance. It is sold and is operational in Israel and abroad.
Dr. Schrift, who is married with children, received the Israel Defense Award in 2003 for her job on the “Green Pine” project involving missile-detection homing radar. She then became head of the Aerial Defense Systems section of ELTA and was deputy director of the Misgav factory - which develops and manufactures naval and ground reconnaissance, intelligence, protection, and defense systems. Today, her position as director of Mabat is considered one of the most influential positions at the IAI.