With Israel facing a variety of short- and long-range missile threats, one woman stands at the head of a program meant to provide the highest tier of protection from the most serious of threats.
Forty-four-year-old mother of three Inbal Kreis was appointed to head the “Arrow 3” development project at the Malam factory of the Israel Aerospace Industries in 2007, and has managed a large team of developers ever since.
Speaking on Thursday, a day after she gave a speech on “Multi-Layer Defense Analysis” to the first annual Israel Multinational Ballistic Missile Defense Conference and Exhibition in Tel Aviv, Kreis said that Israel’s missile defense systems are prepared to face “all types of threats.”
“We have an excellent [defense] system and we spend every hour [of] every day trying to improve it and make it more efficient,” she said.
The Arrow 3 is the third-generation of the Arrow anti-ballistic missile defense system, whose first model was first tested in the early ’90s, before its place was taken by the superior Arrow 2 system, which was deployed in 2000. The Arrow system is meant to provide Israel with theater-wide missile defense by intercepting ballistic missiles in the high stratosphere. The Arrow 3, which Kreis is in charge of developing, is meant to provide an extra tier of protection through the exoatmospheric interception of ballistic missiles.
In Kreis’s speech before the conference on Wednesday, she spoke about the challenges of an “active” defense system, and the role “multi-layer security” has in defending Israel from regional missile threats.
Kreis said she felt the conference, the first international meeting of its kind ever held in Israel, presented an interesting opportunity “to hear what people from outside of Israel think of Israel. All of us [in the Israeli industry] already know what the other Israelis think, it’s important that we hear people from abroad.”
A cursory look around the conference gave the impression that the missile defense and aeronautics industries are landscapes virtually bereft of women. Kreis said Thursday that while there aren’t many women in top positions in her field, she didn’t feel that the industry could be described as an ‘old boys club,’ and that gender has never been an issue for her.
“There are many women in the field who lead development groups and hold other positions. It’s not difficult to be a woman in this industry; it’s a non-issue for me.”
In terms of missile defense diplomacy, Kreis said that cooperation between the US and Israel on missile defense “has not changed whatsoever,” under the Obama administration, and stressed the importance of cooperation for both sides.
“It’s very difficult work, but it’s also a sort of service to the country. It’s doing something for the sake of Israel.”
“There hasn’t been any change whatsoever, our cooperation involves
shared training and shared budgets and we have a firm connection with
the Americans on this issue.”
Kreis added that the two countries “have set very clear milestones for
the development of these programs and have met all of them.”
While working on such complicated systems that have been entrusted to
protect Israelis from potential existential threats can be very
stressful, Kreis says the knowledge she is helping defend Israel makes
the job easier.