Israeli defence technology company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has completed its acquisition of leading Israeli unmanned aerial systems (UAS) developer Aeronautics.

The move will expand Rafael’s product range adding unmanned systems to its portfolio that includes missile systems, communications, directed energy weapons and advanced active protection armour.

The deal will give Rafael a 50% stake in Aeronautics. In its press release, Rafael said the purchase ‘comes as part of Rafael’s long-term strategy to evaluate and implement new areas of growth, including by M&A [mergers and acquisitions] of unmanned platform companies’.

Rafael president and CEO Major General (Retired) Yoav Har-Even said: “We are proud and look forward to working with Aeronautics’ scientists and engineers who bring with them vast experience, knowhow and unique technologies, some of the world’s best.

“Connecting those with Rafael’s technological richness, proven systems, infrastructure and resources, financial robustness, and most importantly, our excellent human capital, is a force-multiplier, guaranteed to be of high technological and strategic value in helping us to reach our goals.”

Aeronautics produces a range of UAS solutions from miniature to tactical systems. The company also develops the Skystar platform, which uses a helium balloon to lift a surveillance payload for persistent monitoring of a given area.

In August, Rafael received approval from the Israeli Government to proceed with the acquisition, which is worth around $250m. The deal was originally delayed after Israeli authorities raised concerns over the deal.

Rafael is purchasing the company in partnership with Israeli businessman Avichai Stolero. This partnership means it will be easier for the company to continue selling UAS and supporting systems to customers outside of Israel.

As the Israeli Government owns Rafael, its purchase of Aeronautics was subject to government approval. Initially, another Israeli defence contractor, Israel Aerospace Industries, was also interested in purchasing it.

Rafael was established in 1948 and has been a key player in Israel’s defence industry ever since. The company is the third-largest defence contractor in Israel.

Aeronautics develops solutions, including UAS systems, payload and communications tools for civilian and military applications.