Israel’s Air Force (IAF) air defense command is evaluating a long-range electro-optical target identification system developed under air-force and industry cooperation. An experimental system, dubbed ‘Sniper’ was recently deployed with one of the Israeli Patriot air-defense missile units, enabling the site positively identify missile or aircraft targets from long distances, thereby extending the system’s effective range to the missile’s kinematic range.
Commonly operating within restrictive ‘rules of engagement’, long-range air defense units such as the Patriot are limited in their ability to operate ‘beyond visual range’. The missile unit’s search radar continuously detect ‘targets’ and conducts an identification process that confirmed as ‘friendly’ or ‘neutral’, after being ‘interrogated’ by friend or foe (IFF) systems. However, potentially hostile targets cannot be classified as such by radar only, especially in operations ‘other than war’, requiring further, positive identification by electronic signal ‘profiling’ or visual confirmation.
Providing visual identification at extended range buys more decision time for the defender allowing for optimal employment of defensive measures, thus enabling target engagement at the maximum range provided by the interceptor.