Main Events

Kenneth Bialkin and Moshe Keret

CEO Learns
Yak Zaps Jet

Story and Photos by Tim Boxer

HE head of Israel Aircraft Industries, the bedrock of the country’s military might, has learned his lesson: zip the lip.

IAI president/CEO Moshe Keret said that two decades ago he proudly developed the Lavi, one of the most advanced jet fighters in the world.

I remember a visit to IAI where I sat in the cockpit, and marveled at all the fancy gadgets and controls. The imaginative Keret even installed sideview mirrors to track an enemy that might sneak up from behind. No one had thought of that before for a plane!

Word got out that this new Israeli jet was being equipped with far more improved equipment than the F-16. "We made it better than the F-16," Keret said. That made America nervous.

The U.S. didn’t want the Lavi to compete with the F-16 in the world market, so America pressured Israel to abandon the Lavi. The lonely prototype has since been dispatched to the Air Force Museum near Beersheba.

"We should have kept quiet about it," Keret admits. That’s how Israel lost a key advantage in air warfare at the time.

I reminded him of the World War II warnings: "Loose Lips Sink Ships." While developing the next generation of missiles, naval ships and aircraft, Keret should put up similar posters: Zug Gornisht [say nothing].

America Israel Friendship League honored Keret along with Koby Alexander, chairman/CEO of Comverse Technologies, and Alan Elkin, chairman/CEO of Active International, at a Partners for Democracy Awards dinner at the New York Hilton.

Chairman Kenneth Bialkin also honored Ilana Artman, who is retiring as executive vice president after 30 years.

"Working with Ilana is a travail," Bialkin said with a wide grin. "Getting her to agree with you is an achievement."

"Those who know me," Artman said with a wider grin, "know that humility is not my strength."

Main Events

[ Back to Top ]


Copyright©1999 -
15 Minutes Magazine, Inc.

Site Designed, Developed and Maintained by
Internet Web Systems Internet Consultants - Web Site Design -  Website Hosting
Any questions or comments regarding this website, or if you would like one of your own,
please contact us at