Former IAI CEO Moshe Keret, defense industry visionary, passes away

Keret worked for Israel Aerospace Industries for more than 50 years including more than two decades as CEO. Under his management, IAI became a successful international aerospace company that contributed to Israel's security

Photo: IAI

Moshe Keret, one of the leading figures in Israel’s defense industry and part of the founding generation of Israel Aerospace Industries, passed away on Tuesday. Keret had been with IAI for over 50 years. He served as CEO from 1985 to 2006 after holding several other senior positions in the organization. Under Keret's management, IAI became an international aerospace company with major technological, managerial, and business achievements, as well as a main contributor to the security of the State of Israel.

Among Keret's dozens of achievements over the years was the development of countless new areas of activity for the aerospace industry that positioned IAI among the world’s largest defense manufacturers and Israel’s leading exporters. During his time as CEO, IAI's exports of various products increased significantly, among them military aircraft, executive aircraft, intelligence mission aircraft, UAVs, radars of various types, observation satellites, and maintenance and conversion of passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft to foreign customers around the world.

Over the years, Keret won awards, appreciation, and recognition, both in Israel and abroad, for his many years of activity: the Israel Security Award and the Kaplan Award, for his part in the development and production of the Kfir fighter aircraft, the Manufacturers' Association Award for his contribution to the plant's recovery, an Honorary Doctorate from the Technion, and medals of honor and appreciation from leading aerospace industry publications in the US and Europe. Keret also received countless letters of praise from IAI’s customers around the world.

IAI CEO Nimrod Sheffer said "Tonight, the State of Israel and IAI lost one of its best sons, who devoted decades to the benefit of the State, Israel’s industry, and IAI in particular. Keret, a visionary, led the company to extraordinary technological, commercial, and economic achievements. He believed in IAI's ability to break boundaries time and time again. IAI's management and employees owe a deep gratitude to Keret for his dedication, determination, and leadership. We shall always remember him and may his memory be a blessing".

Moshe Keret was born in Israel in 1934 and served in the IDF from 1952 to 1955. He began working in the aerospace industry as an aircraft mechanic in 1955. After a year, he applied to study at the Hebrew Technion in Haifa. In 1959 he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering.

In 1968, following the imposition of an embargo on the supply of French fighter jets to Israel after the Six-Day War, the Israeli government decided to start the development and production of fighter jets in Israel. In his capacity as head of the fighter aircraft assembly division at IAI, Keret was responsible for the production of the Nesher, the first fighter jet made by the company. In 1974, Keret was appointed IAI's VP and in charge of the company's "Kfir" program. For his part in the production of the Kfir, Keret won the Israel Security Award and the Kaplan Award.

In 1982 he was appointed VP of Marketing of IAI. A year later, Keret was appointed Deputy General Manager, leading the areas of marketing, research, and business development. In 1985, Keret was appointed General Manager. At the beginning of his tenure as CEO, IAI embarked on the ambitious "Lavi" program, a project Keret saw as the pinnacle of his professional achievements, and a convincing display of IAI’s ability to develop an advanced fighter jet in Israel. Following the cancellation of the project, Keret spearheaded a company reorganization in which IAI underwent far-reaching changes in the technological and business field that led the company to numerous new achievements.