Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. on Wednesday paid a dividend of more than NIS 220 million to the government.“The defense industry in Israel shows again and again its important contribution to the country’s economy,” Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said. “Rafael is placed at the leading edge of the global defense technology industry thanks to its sophisticated research and development activity.“The Israeli economy is enjoying the fruits of Rafael’s success, which hired more than 2,000 new workers in the past decade in hi-tech and contributed to the strengthening of the Galilee and the security of the State of Israel.”Israel’s first hi-tech exports were produced by defense industries such as state-owned companies Rafael and Israel Aircraft Industries and by subcontractors.Rafael develops and manufactures advanced defense systems for the IDF and armed forces around the world. It makes air, sea and ground weapons, electro-optic systems, electronic warfare systems, unmanned systems, acoustic defense systems, armored protection, munitions and space technologies.Rafael is the largest employer in the North, with more than 6,000employees, contractors and service suppliers. It also operates viasubsidiaries and holding companies throughout the world.Last year Rafael’s net profits increased 7 percent to NIS 441m., mainlyfrom exports. Sales jumped 15% to NIS 6.3b. from a year earlier.At the end of 2009, Rafael’s order backlog rose by $1.8 billion to$3.5b., or about two years of manufacturing. Some 76% of the backlog isfor export, mainly to Europe, Latin America, the Far East and theUnited States.Rafael is an example of a successful and profitable state-ownedcompany, Government Companies Authority Director-General Doron Cohensaid Wednesday.“The fruits of the company’s success are boosting Rafael’s own capitaland enabling it to continue to invest in research and development andto reward its workers and the government by securing a continued growthpath, since more than 50% of its sales are exports,” he said.