Israel Aerospace Industries was founded in 1953 as Bedek Aviation Company under the initiative of Shimon Peres, then director general of the Ministry of Defense, in order to maintain Israel Defence Forces aircraft.
Israel Aerospace Industries is Israel's prime aerospace and aviation manufacturer, producing aerial and astronautic systems for both military and civilian usage. It has 16,000 employees as of 2013. IAI is wholly owned by the government of Israel.
IAI designs and builds civil aircraft, drones, fighter aircraft, missile, avionics, and space-based systems.
Although IAI's main focus is aviation and high-tech electronics, it also manufactures military systems for ground and naval forces. Many of these products are specially suited for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) needs, while others are also marketed to foreign militaries.
On 6 November 2006, IAI changed its corporate name from "Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd." to "Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd."; to more accurately reflect the current scope of the firm's business activities, which includes not just aircraft, but also systems, satellites and launchers, as well as maritime and ground systems.