Israeli Infantry Battalions to Improve Fire Support

Keshet 120mm self-propelled mortar utilizes the M-106 (M-113) chassis configured with the Cardom mortar system from Elbit Systems (formerly Soltam).

The Israeli Army is planning to complete the fielding of CARDOM mortar systems and remotely controlled weapon stations, equipping the regular infantry brigades and some reserve infantry units this year (2008).

According to Lt. Col. Eran Granit, IDF Land Forces’ Head of Weapon Systems, the CARDOM version selected by the IDF is a more advanced version of the vehicle mounted 120mm mortar system developed by Soltam, and fielded with the US Army Stryker brigade combat teams. The Israeli version designated “Keshet” is fully integrated with brigade’s command and control system, enabling automatic mortar aiming, (traversing and elevation) to rapidly target targets with high precision. The manually loaded system will enable battalion commanders to employ autonomous fire support which was previously available at brigade level and above.

In 2008 Infantry battalions are also expected to receive the Samson armored, remotely controlled weapon stations (RCWS). Some of the vehicles, such as the Achzarit AIFV are equipped with mechanical ‘Overhead Weapon Stations’ (OWS), also developed by Rafael. The externally mounted Samson will free some space inside the fighting compartment and improve situational awareness and target acquisition and engagement capability with the introduction of electro optical day/night sensors and stabilized weapon mount. Similar systems are already installed on elevated sites along the Israeli border with the palestinian gaza strip, providing persistent coverage, by visual observation and firepower, along this sensitive borderline.