Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced today the signing of three significant contracts valued at over US$100 million for the supply of Loitering Munitions (LM) systems to several countries in Asia. Orders for HAROP loitering weapons for land-based and naval platforms and ROTEM miniature ‘suicide drones’ reflect a growing interest in the LM category. The contracts include winning an international tender for the sale of the multi-purpose miniature loitering munitions, for which the customer selected IAI’s ‘ROTEM’ system.
‘ROTEM’ is the first Vertical Take-Off & Landing (VTOL) Tactical Loitering Munition. ROTEM carries day/night cameras and a warhead weighing up to one kilogram and is optimally designed to carry out combined intelligence gathering and attack missions. The system incorporates a unique safety mechanism that enables its safe return to the fighter on the ground if an attack was not carried out.
A combat-proven weapon, ROTEM has been used in operations by several of the world’s militaries and was proven as a force multiplier for tactical forces in a range of combat scenarios. The system expands the small unit a reconnaissance, observation, and attack envelope with maximum autonomous performance, integrating a simple and intuitive operation interface that can be used by a single fighter from a touchscreen tablet. The ‘Rotem’ system has proven its operational effectiveness for precise, surgical strikes against a range of different targets.
In another sale, IAI will supply a naval version of the Harop loitering weapon. These missiles will be installed on naval combat ships and Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), empowering naval commanders with an integrated intelligence gathering and actionable response capability. HAROP can be integrated on deck in modular batteries comprised of stacks of three launcher-containers each. A battery includes from one to four stacks that can launch up to 12 HAROPS simultaneously. The intelligence gathered by the HAROP is directly integrated into the vessel’s control room and allows for quick, accurate, and lethal decision-making.
The use of the HAROP on naval platforms is an operational alternative and complementary element to using sea-sea missiles, with a wide range of uses and optimal cost-efficiency for the navy. The maritime and land combat-proven HAROP provides an operational solution for a range of low and high-intensity conflict scenarios and anti-terrorism activity. The HAROP is equipped with day/night cameras and has the ability to search, find and attack with maximum precision, both static and moving targets, on land or at sea and a long-range. A strike can take place from any direction and at any angle of attack. The third contract is selling the ground version of the HAROP system to a customer in Asia.
Drones and loitering weapons were used extensively by both sides of the conflict in the Caucasus. The conflict was the first time when loitering weapons were used on a wide scale, to strike sensitive, time-critical targets by leveraging the weapon’s integral intelligence gathering and strike capability. This video shows a collection of images taken by the strike cameras of IAI HAROP loitering weapons, published by the Azeri MOD in October 2020.
Boaz Levy, IAI’s President, and CEO said: “IAI is a global pioneer in developing the operational concept of a loitering munitions systems, which has ripened to a family of unique and accurate attack systems. These systems, which have added impressive achievements to the operational capability of fighting forces worldwide, constitute central and decisive attack components for advanced battlefields of the future. These contracts further prove the importance and confidence modern armies place in precision munitions as part of their arsenal. They may be harbingers of additional business activity in this field. IAI will continue to develop and improve a range of strike systems to give its clients around the world a precise operational solution.”
According to IAI’s sources, the new contracts reflect a growing interest in the loitering weapon segment. Although these wins result from a marketing campaign that lasts for three years, the interest in the loitering weapon segment has increased following the dramatic effects scored in combat operations by the Azeri forces in their recent conflict with Armenia.
IAI pioneered the loitering weapon category 35 years ago, introducing the Harpy anti-radiation ‘killer drone.’ Part of an innovative suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) capability, Harpy continues to provide an effective combat capability against the modern A2AD challenge with the Harpuy-NG variant. IAI also offers the MINI-HAROP (also known as Green Dragon), a canister launched loitering weapon designed for tactical missions on land and sea.
The HAROP uses the same airframe but exchanges the passive RF seeker with an EO/IR payload and communications package enabling the operator to scan the target area for up to nine hours before attacking a target based on the real-time intelligence the HAROP brings. With this capability, HAROP becomes very effective in detecting, tracking, and eliminating Time Critical Targets. This unique capability sharpens the combat commander with the ability to engage high priority targets on land or at sea without prior knowledge of their exact location by closing a ‘Sensor to Shooter’ loop within few minutes and attacking fast-moving targets with surgical precision. Combat footage from the recent conflict in the Caucasus shows how HAROP prosecute fast-moving targets with deadly accuracy.