Resulting from lessons learned during years of low intensity conflict in an urban environment, the Israel Defense Forces is expanding its capabilities and autonomy at tactical levels. New developments enable organic intelligence collection at battalion and below, improving real-time situational awareness and response, through comprehensive network centric systems and the use of unmanned and robotic systems. Other developments improve the survivability and protection of platforms and personnel, through the use of exotic new materials, reactive and active armor systems, as well as sophisticated countermeasures, combating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other short range anti-armor threats (such as RPGs).
Several programs managed by the Israel Ministry of Defense Directorate of Defense Research & Development (DDR&D) are addressing these issues, in an attempt to provide battalion commanders maximum autonomy, relying on organic intelligence gathering capability. A grenade-like, disposable reconnaissance sensor fired from a grenade launcher, a tennis ball-sized observation device which can be rolled into a room before an assault, man-portable unmanned Miniature Aerial Vehicle (MAV) and miniature aerostat loitering over a target for hours and a new, low-cost, small ground robot that autonomously roams an urban battlefield, are only few representative systems in this field. These new platforms can be quite exotic but DDR&D deputy director, Brig. Gen. (ret) Yakov Nagel is focusing on the subsystems and capabilities which render the Israeli systems unique: “Sensors, communications and the wisdom emplaced in these vehicle’s computers are the key elements for their success”. According to Nagel, DDR&D is supporting specific programs, from the technology demonstration through full scale development. “Unmanned vehicles are becoming commodity platforms, Our advantage is the quality of the output provided by the payload. We decided to invest in this technology and supported the development of the miniature payload. We are planning to use these compact payloads in all our future mini UAVs programs” says Nagel. DDR&D is pursuing ground robotics programs, with the introduction of autonomous border patroller and a new, highly agile small robot, designed for operation in urban environment.
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