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IDF Completes Iron Fist APS Integration on Eitan APC, Armored Bulldozers

Israel Integrates “Iron Fist” Active Protection Systems (APS) in the ‘Eitan’ Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) and ‘Panda’ Armored D9 Bulldozer. A final test series completed the integration process, demonstrating successful interception tests in various challenging scenarios. The video documenting the tests depicts a new version of the APS, employing a smaller radar panel and protected launchers.

According to Yehuda (Udi) Vered, General Manager of Elbit Systems Land, the Iron Fist Active Protection System is unique, being a lightweight system that can be installed on a variety of fighting vehicles, including APCs.

The tests were performed by the Ministry of Defense Tank and APC Directorate, Iron First developer and manufacturer, Elbit Systems Land Division, and the the IDF Ground Forces Command. The Iron Fist version used on the Eitan and D9 is a lighter version of the system, optimized for lighter armored vehicles.

A comparison between the earlier and current Iron Fist configurations on the Eitan turret (The new turret on the right is not equipped with the 30mm cannon). Photos: IMOD

Subscribe to get more insightsThe APS system developed by Elbit Systems is an advanced active protection system that provides 360-degree coverage against multi-range threats in open and urban environments. In addition to its defensive capabilities, the system provides APC teams with situational awareness as it indicates the appearance and locations of sources of fire that can put the protected vehicle or the operational unit at risk. This contribution is critical for rapid sensor-to-shooter engagement, in modern, multi-domain operations. Iron Fist employs an early warning electro-optic sensor and radar for target search, track, and distance measurement performed by the main processing unit. The system employs two rotatable launchers, launching interceptors against threats that are considered a direct and imminent threat to the protected vehicle. In the recent tests these effectors demonstrated the neutralization of different threats at a safe distance from the protected APC.

According to Head of the Defense Tank and APC Directorate in the Israel Ministry of Defense, Brigadier General Oren Giber, “The Tank and APC Directorate is currently completing its preparation for the delivery of the self-developed Eitan advanced 8×8 wheeled APC to the IDF. The Iron Fist system is an important part of this project. It is currently in advanced stages of development and deployment to the ‘Eitan’ APC and the bulldozer, undergoing rigorous trials to ensure its suitability for the battlefield. The Iron Fist will substantially improve the protection of the Eitan APC and enhance the vehicle’s maneuverability in combat while protecting combat soldiers.”

APS – A Maturing Protection Capability

APS are currently considered an important capability for new and modernized combat vehicles. The most mature is the Trophy APS from Rafael, equipping the Israeli Merkava Main Battle Tank (MBT) and Namer APC of the Israeli Army, M-1A2 SEPV2 in the US Army, the german Leopard 2 and British Challenger MK 3. The system is proposed by the German tank manufacturer KMW, the German part of the Franco-German AFV manufacturer KNDS, as a standard protection for the Leopard II tank. Trophy has also been included in the demonstrator for the future MBT proposed by the company unveiled at the recent Eurosatory 2022 defense expo. The Hungarian Army selected the StrikeShield APS from Rheinmetall, to protect its new KF41 Lynx Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Other systems are currently in development in Turkey, and South Korea.

Iron Fist has been selected by several international users, including the Dutch Army for the CV9035, and the Australian Army for the successor of the M-113 APC, to be selected soon under the Land 400 Phase 3 program. The system has also been integrated into the next generation turret carrying the 50mm cannon considered by the US Army for its future Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV).

B-21 Raider – The US Air Forces’ Next Generation Bomber

The Northrop B-21 Raider, America's new bomber rolls out from its hangar for the first time, 2 December 2022. Photo: Northrop Grumman

On 2 December 2022, the US Air Force publicly unveiled its new bomber, the B-21 Raider. The aircraft is the first new, long-range strike bomber in a generation; it is designed to be the multifunctional backbone of the modernized bomber fleet.

As a long-range, highly survivable stealth aircraft, the Raider will be a dual-capable bomber, delivering a mix of stand-off and direct-attack munitions for conventional and nuclear attacks; the weapons will include cruise missiles and guided bombs, among them the heaviest weapon in US Air Force inventory, the GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which, until now, could be carried only by the B-2 Spirit and B-52H.

Once fielded, the B-21 will operate as part of a family of systems designed to support the Long-Range Strike with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Electronic Attack (EA), Communications, and other capabilities. The aircraft is designed with updated stealth qualities and mission flexibility to enable a credible ‘integrated deterrence,’ meaning that it can strike anywhere in the world at any time, including in denied and contested airspace.

Following the formal rollout, the first B-21 aircraft was towed for a short stroll outside the hangar for the first time. Photo: Northrop Grumman, US Air Force

The B-21 is the first new bomber to be introduced since the end of the Cold War. Air Force officials envision an ultimate fleet of at least 100 aircraft with an average procurement unit cost requirement of $692 million (according to the base year 2022 dollars). The B-21 Raider will enter service by the middle of the decade and will gradually replace aging B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers now in service. The B-1B was fielded in 1986, and the B-2 became operational a decade later, in 1997.

A New Design for the Flying Wing

The new bomber is considered a ‘Sixth Generation’ aircraft, as it follows five earlier generations of jet bombers developed since the end of the Second World War. As a leader of the new generation, it is the first to implement the dramatic technological signature management, materials, and doctrinal changes, such as the multi-domain warfare, that evolved since the introduction of the first stealth bomber, the B-2 Spirit.

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The lower side of the B-21 indicates the use of large, low-observable composite aerostructure and skin parts which requires less maintenance to sustain the low observable performance of the aircraft.
The teardrop-shaped elongated inlets also contribute to overall signature reduction.

The B-21 cockpit shows minimal seams and taping, indicating the low observable characteristics of the outer skin are much more effective than that of previous low-observable aircraft.
The cockpit area of the B-2, shows a striking difference from that of the new B-21. Photo: US Air Force

Open Systems Architecture

When the B-21 becomes operational, the oldest bomber in service, the B-52 Stratofortress, will turn 80. But even in its old age, the B-52 will continue to serve alongside the new bomber, at least until the 2050s, after a thorough modernization process that will upgrade its radar, replace the engine, and introduce new communications systems. Despite its old age, the B-52 is much cheaper to operate compared to the B-1B and the B-2. Although the B-21 will be the most expensive aircraft in history, it is designed to be more affordable to operate over its service life.

One aspect of the B-21 is the design concept, using open systems architecture to reduce integration risk and enable competition for future modernization efforts to allow the aircraft to evolve as the threat environment changes. To promote efficient and collaborative development, the design of the new bomber was uploaded to a secure cloud, where all team members, including the Air Force, have access to a detailed virtual 3D model of the aircraft called ‘Digital Twin’ that allow designers to drive down risk in the engineering, manufacturing, and deployment (EMD). Northrop Grumman uses agile software development, advanced manufacturing techniques, and digital engineering tools to help mitigate production risk on the B-21 program and enable modern sustainment practices. The B-21 team includes more than 8,000 people from Northrop Grumman, industry partners, and the Air Force. The group consists of more than 400 suppliers across 40 states.

The specific B-21 unveiled on Dec. 2 is one of six under production. Each is considered a test aircraft, but each is being built as production representative aircraft on the same production line, using the same tools, processes, and technicians who will build production aircraft. This approach has enabled production engineers and technicians to capture lessons learned and apply them directly to follow-on aircraft, driving home a focus on repeatability, producibility, and quality. The aircraft will soon begin testing outside the hangar, including taxiing and powering on more systems ahead of the first flight in 2023.

The schedule of the first flight or initial operational capability has yet to be released, but the basing decisions for the new bomber have been made. The first three units of B-21 will be based in Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota, currently operating the B-1B, which will become the first Main Operating Base and formal training unit for the new bomber. Whiteman AFB, in Missouri, currently operating the B-2, and Dyess AFB, Texas, where B-1B is presently deployed, will also base the B-21.

Plasan Delivers Sandcat EX11 Armored Vehicles to the IDF

The SandCat EX11 was designed and produced by Plasan, using commercial Ford F550 chassis, stripped off the standard body, and added the armored capsule designed by the company’s unique kitted-hull architecture enabling flexible configurations for different uses. Photo: Plasan via IMOD.

The Director of Procurement at Israel’s Ministry of Defense (IMOD) has purchased in an expedited procedure 50 wheeled armored personnel carriers following a request from the IDF to bolster the capabilities of increased operational tempo the IDF has experienced in recent months.

The SandCat EX11 was designed and produced by Plasan, using commercial Ford F550 chassis. The original vehicle was stripped of the standard body, and added the armored capsule designed with the company’s unique kitted-hull architecture, enabling flexible configurations for different uses. The vehicle carries up to 11 soldiers, two stretchers, and medics when configured into an ambulance. Israel’s border guards have already used a smaller version of the Sandcat armored vehicles since 2008.

The vehicle’s assembly was quick, with parts supplied from operational inventory, enabling rapid production ramp-up for initial deliveries and full order completion within a few weeks. “This is a significant and rapid procurement that brings an important operational capability to the field and immediately responds to the IDF needs of protected mobility.” Said Avi Dadon, Director of Procurement and Deputy Director of the MOD. The agreement with the Plasan also includes integrated logistics to support the vehicles, assuring the availability of the vehicle fleet.

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Ze’ev (Wolf) armored vehicles in IDF service. Photo: via Wikipedia

The vehicle complements the Ze’ev (Wolf) armored vehicles the IDF has operated in these roles since 2006. These 8-ton vehicles were used extensively on border protection and supported IDF operations in urban terrain.

Coordinated Drone Attack Targets the Russian Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol

The drone attack on the Russian Navy’s main Black Sea port of Sevastopol on 29 October represents a new phase in the modern drone war. While suicide boat attacks have been known since WWII, the recent strike demonstrates the unique value and potential of such combined attacks by unmanned aerial and surface vehicles (UAVs and USVs).

According to Russian MOD, the attack involved nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven unmanned strike boats. The Russians claim their naval forces destroyed four boats and three were destroyed from shore. Some of the boats directed their attack against the floating net boom in Yuzhnaya Bay. The Russian MOD admitted the boom was damaged by the attack. Another video captured by the USVs and released online shows the boat moving at a Russian combatant ship at high speed, with a Mi-8 helicopter engaging with machine gun fire and larger caliber fire from the shore or other vehicles splashing nearby. The attack boat managed to close in on the ship, a Project 11356R Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate. There are reports that Admiral Makarov, reportedly the Black Sea Fleet’s new flagship after the Project 1164 Slava-class cruiser Moskva sank in April, was damaged in the attack. The Russian Defense Ministry announced that the Natya-class minesweeper (Project 266M) “Ivan Golubets” of the Black Sea Fleet received “minor damage” in an apparent Ukrainian attack on targets in Sevastopol, Crimea.

According to the Russians, the Ukrainian 73rd Marine Special Operations Center was responsible for this operation, assisted by British specialists. If the attack came from the city of Ochakov, Mykolaiv region in Ukraine, as the Russians claim, the strike force had traveled undetected to Sevastopol in Crimea, navigating +150 kilometers of rough waters at the open sea to create havoc at the protected enemy harbor. The recent attack was not the first operation of USVs in the black sea; the first discovery of such an attack boat was reported on 21 September 2022, as one such boat beached and was discovered at Omega Bay, just outside the entrance to the harbor and is in an area used by the Russian Navy. This attack caused the Russian Navy to call off patrols in the open sea and locate its vessels behind booms and barriers of the military harbor. The recent attack exploited this situation.

The coordination of the air and maritime components enabled the attackers to obtain intelligence in real-time, confuse the enemy by creating chaos at the base, and enable the explosive-laden strike boats to close in on their targets with high precision, as can be seen from the videos showing the attacking boats moving at very close proximity to large naval combatants.

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Image: The Sun

High-Energy Laser Weapon Tested on a German Navy Frigate

The HEL weapon demonstrator was then installed onboard the frigate Sachsen in Kiel. Photo: Rheinmetall.

The German Armed Forces have recently fired a shipboard laser weapon against aerial targets. At the test the German frigate Sachsen successfully engaged drones at a short and very short range. The test took place in the Baltic Sea near Putlos Major Training Area on August 30th, 2022. The high energy laser (HEL) weapon demonstrator paves the way for future naval weapon systems defending ships against drones and drone swarms as well as engaging attacking speed boat swarms at close and very close range. The technology is scalable to deliver higher output power, enabling it to destroy guided missiles and mortar rounds.

Testing of the high-energy laser weapon will continue until mid-2023. In subsequent test campaigns, new scenarios will challenge the demonstrator’s capabilities. The results will determine what still needs to be done on the path to a fully functional, operational laser weapon.

The laser weapon demonstrator was developed by the German ‘High-Energy Laser Naval Demonstrator working committee’ (“ARGE”), consisting of MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH. The work was evenly divided between the two companies. MBDA Deutschland provided the target detection and tracking systems and the operator console and linked the laser weapon demonstrator to the command-and-control system. Rheinmetall was responsible for the high-energy laser source and peripheral systems – turret slewing and beam guidance delivered the demonstrator container and provided the mechanical and electrical integration of the demonstrator onto the deck of the Sachsen.

The German frigate ‘Sachsen’ has successfully engaged drones at a short and very short range, using the High Power Laser (HEL) weapon demonstrator, seen in this picture on the vessel’s port side.

The integration and test phase started in November 2021 and concluded successfully with a factory acceptance test at Rheinmetall’s Unterlüß proving ground. The demonstrator was then installed onboard the frigate Sachsen in Kiel. In July 2022 the first test campaign took place in Eckernförde Bay near the Bundeswehr’s Technical Centre for Ships and Naval Weapons, Marine Technology and Research, WTD 71, in Surendorf. These trials verified the system’s sensors capabilities including the electro-optical sensor suite from the ARGE and the radar. In addition, the interplay between all the components and procedures in the entire operational sequence from target acquisition to engagement was put to the test. This final phase provided the opportunity to test the entire system, including the HEL, in multiple highly realistic engagement scenarios.

The high energy laser (HEL) weapon demonstrator paves the way for future naval weapon systems defending ships against drones and drone swarms as well as engaging attacking speed boat swarms at close and very close range.

As part of a test campaign in October 2022, proof has now been provided that dynamic targets can be successfully combated under realistic conditions.

“Due to its capabilities, a future system is particularly suitable for combating small and agile targets, such as drones or speedboats, at close and very close range. Defense against mortar shells and guided missiles is also conceivable,” says the responsible project manager at BAAINBw. “These tests lay the foundation for the possible development of an operational laser weapon system for the German Navy.”

The laser weapon demonstrator was developed by the German ‘High-Energy Laser Naval Demonstrator working committee’ (“ARGE”), consisting of MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH. The work was evenly divided between the two companies. MBDA Deutschland provided the target detection and tracking systems and the operator console and linked the laser weapon demonstrator to the command-and-control system. Rheinmetall was responsible for the high-energy laser source and peripheral systems – turret slewing and beam guidance delivered the demonstrator container and provided the mechanical and electrical integration of the demonstrator onto the deck of the Sachsen.

Hensoldt’s new Pointer to Improve Sensor-to-Shooter Engagement at Short Ranges

The Short-Range Pointer (SRP) combines several sensors to enable fast and intuitive target acquisition at ranges up to 5,000 m. Photo: Defense-Update
The SRP combines INS, D-GNSS, stereoscopic viewer, and laser rangefinder to provide an accurate and intuitive target acquisition. Illustration: Hensoldt

Facing modern asymmetric threats, naval forces are often called to respond to surprise attacks launched at close range, with minimum alert leaving a very short time to respond. Such threats range from small, fast boats to unmanned underwater vehicles and suicide drones. Hensoldt has developed a handheld Short-Range Pointer (SRP) device that couples to remotely controlled weapon stations (RCWS) on board to significantly reduce the ‘sensor to shooter’ cycle. Unlike mechanized pointing devices using complex optomechanical systems, the handheld SRP can be pointed wherever the user can point and track the target at any posture (standing, laying, or pointing straight up, at any elevation, or bearing. This capability makes it uniquely effective as part of drone-defense measures.

The SRP uses a reflex sight similar to modern assault rifles to enable fast and intuitive target acquisition. Pulling the trigger, the SRP operator designates the target in his sight, sending instantaneously accurate target data – bearing, elevation and distance, to the RWS and Combat Management Center (CMS). Weighing less than 3 kg, the SRP features an accuracy of <1° bearing and elevation. The rangefinder can operate at distances up to 5,000 meters. The targeting information can automatically direct the weapon station to the designated target without the need to guide the weapon operator to the general target location. The weapon operator then pursues a precise engagement. Using SRP for situational awareness, the designations can point at potential targets and objects of interest without employing firepower.

The SRP can be used on board the ship or on other vessels up to 8 nm from the mother ship hosting the SRP base unit. The SRP uses an inertial measurement unit (IMU) and Differential local Navigation Satellite System (D-GNSS), a stereoscopic viewer, and an eye-safe laser rangefinder (LRF). The device can add additional sensors, such as night vision, using a Picatinny rail mounted on the top. It is coupled to the RWS and CMS via an encrypted wireless link.

The SRP LED data display shows target bearing, elevation, and range, and indicates the system’s status. Photo: Defense-Update

Sea Spider to Protect Surface Vessels from Submarine’s Attacks


The torpedo threat is increasingly diverse. Heavyweight torpedoes differ in their propulsion types, the type and configuration of their sensors, and their guidance capability. Torpedo propulsion has seen great advances in recent years with new records in range and speeds even for the “stealthy” electrically propelled torpedo. In sensors, the wake-homing torpedo is increasingly proliferated and fully impervious to legacy “softkill” torpedo defense technology. Digital torpedo-homing sonars provide high performance and are resistant to decoys and jammers. Wire guidance provides the “man in the loop” the capability to enhance torpedo performance and utilize advanced tactics. The most modern torpedoes combine these and other advances into the most dangerous threat to ships today.

Atlas Elektronik displayed the Sea Spider Anti-Torpedo Torpedo (ATT) at EuroNaval 2022. The system provides an effective and affordable hard-kill solution protecting surface ships against torpedo threats. Sea Spider actively seeks out attacking torpedoes to destroy the threat. Unlike decoy/jammer TD effectors, the operation of the ATT is independent of the attacking torpedoes’ mode of homing, guidance, or propulsion system. Sea Spider’s defensive capability detects wake-homing torpedoes and salvos, targeting each threat separately. Using a solid rocket propellant, the Sea Spider can be moving underwater at high speed to rapidly close in on the target.

The Sea Spider system operates as part of an integrated torpedo defense system, offering rapid reaction time and effective close-in defensive capability. Using a high-frequency sonar is effective in deep or shallow littoral water and mitigates the impact of environmental effects that often degrade the performance of the torpedo detection capability.

In recent years the Sea Spider system has gone through extensive testing. In 2019 Atlas Elektronik announced the successful series of sea trials in cooperation with the German Bundeswehr Technical Center for ships and naval weapons, maritime technology, and research (WTD 71).

The Sea Spider is launched under command from the torpedo defense system from surface-mounted launchers. Illustration: Atlas Elektronik

These tests demonstrated the full “sensor to shooter” functional chain of a hardkill surface ship torpedo defense system with Torpedo Detection, Classification, and Localisation (TDCL), and the SeaSpider Anti-Torpedo-Torpedo (ATT) has successfully been demonstrated on a surface ship.

In 2019 Atlas Elektronik Canada and Magellan Aerospace Corporation entered a design and development phase of the Sea Spider Anti Torpedo Torpedo (ATT) program. Under this cooperation, Magellan will lead the design and development of the torpedo’s underwater rocket motor and warhead sections. The initial CDN $19 million phase of the program was launched in January of that year and is expected to conclude in 2023.

Surface launch of Sea Spider anti-Torpedo Torpedoes. Photo: Atlas Elektronik

Israel Shipyards Unveil the New SAAR 80 Class Corvette

SAAR S80. Illustration: Israel Shipyards.

Israel Shipyards today at the Euronaval 2022 exhibition a new variant of its SAAR class corvette line – the SAAR S-80. The new vessel is based on the company’s S-72 RESHEF Class corvette, which serves in the Israel Navy as a Light Patrol and advanced multi-role vessel. The S-80 improves on its predecessor by minimizing radar cross section (RCS), and allocating larger deck space for weapon systems. Depending on the operational requirements, the platform can be configured into Corvette or OPV versions. Israel Shipyards intends to make the new S80 its flagship vessel for the next decade, serving the needs of the Israeli and foreign navies.

“The ship is designed for stealth, agility, and ruling the seas with cutting edge capabilities required in future combat scenarios.”, says Mr. Eitan Zucker, the company’s CEO “The S80 ship will enable navies to effectively protect their country’s sovereignty, maintain their economic waters, and win naval battles in times of war. The S80 has the
endurance to operate in the open sea and control the littoral. All this with optimal cost-benefit ratio.”

Compared to the S-72, the new generation of the S-80 class features greater versatility and higher payload capacity, with increased weapon suite capacity and a wider spread of Electronic Warfare (EW) systems as part of the platform offensive advantages. The ship is also capable of supporting special forces operations.

The S80 measures 80m long and 11 m wide, with a displacement of 1,000 tons; she is powered by four diesel engines, driving two controllable pitch propellor systems through two shaft lines. With this propulsion system, the S80 develops a top speed exceeding 28 knots. The vessel can operate at 3,500 nm (at a speed of 12 Kt.)The vessel offers a state-of-the-art ship control system with advanced health management capability.

S80 has a displacement of 1,000 tons. Traveling at a speed of 12 kt. it has an operating range of 3,500 nm. Illustration: Israel Shipyards

UAVs to Deploy BAE Systems’ Depth Charges

BAE Systems is developing a depth charge to be deployed from UAVs. Photo: Defense-Update

BAE Systems is developing a new type of depth charge designed for deployment from UAVs. This next-generation depth charge consists of a small metallic cylindrical container packing an explosive charge and a triggering mechanism that activates the blast at the designated depth. The explosion has a kill radius of 10 – 15 meters against divers and other soft targets (UUV, for example). The charges are contained in a small pod carried by unmanned aerial vehicles. They can be deployed in hover, or in horizontal flight motion, to achieve optimal coverage of the suspected target.

With a capacity of six depth charges the system can be carried as part of a mission payload on rotary-wing UAS securing a naval vessel protection zone and defending against swimmers or divers. The use of UAVs extends the effect of depth charges well beyond the close range achieved by throwing grenades or launching depth charges from the vessel or offshore platform.

The deployment of depth charges can be coordinated with input from diver alert systems or other underwater security systems that detect diver activity in the vicinity of the protected area.

BAE Systems displayed the new weapon at the Euronaval 2022 exhibition held this week in France. The weapon is in an advanced development phase and has already attracted customer interest, for its ability to enhance counter-diver security in coastal and shallow waters.

SHARK – A Smart Weapon Station for Light Boats

The SHARK remotely operated weapon station is optimized for operation on manned and unmanned assault boats and RHIB. Illustration: General Robotics

Naval commandos rely on stealth and surprise to get close to the enemy, strike swiftly, and disengage. For these attributes, they rely on submersible vehicles or Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats – RHIB, small and fast boats, to bring them close to the target with the firepower they need. However, due to the size of these boats, naval commandos cannot use many of the sophisticated weapons employed on larger platforms. That is precisely where General Robotics’ new SHARK Remotely Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) comes into effect.

SHARK addresses the need for SOF to operate their weapons on small boats. These compact boats move at high speed and agility. Yet, the constantly moving platform degrades fire accuracy with conventional weapon mounts, requiring operators to get dangerously close to the enemy to deliver the desired effects. Crews on larger boats often operate stabilized weapon stations to improve fire accuracy, but these systems are much larger and heavier for RHIBs. To meet this challenge, General Robotics has introduced the SHARK, a unique RCWS that applies to naval roles, from special operations to law enforcement interception, including interception, coastal security, counter-terror, and anti-piracy activities.

“We designed SHARK to meet the specific requirements of naval commandos and SEALS,” Shahar Gal, General Robotics’ CEO, said. Addressing the most demanding needs of Naval Special Warfare (NSW), SHARK was designed and tested with users and experts from the local and international NSW community. SHARK fits on small manned and unmanned naval vessels, NSW boats, and raiding crafts to deliver versatile and accurate firepower. At a net weight of 85 kg (without weapons or ammunition), SHARK is much lighter and smaller than other naval weapon stations. Built as a rugged, robust, seaworthy system, it is versatile enough to operate remotely on a cluttered deck, scoring direct hits at a sea state up to 3, where the platform and targets constantly move.

The new SHARK is based on General Robotics’ combat-proven Pitbull RCWS. “We developed the SHARK prototype as a robust yet lightweight system offering seamless remote operation by a single operator with some special adaptations for naval use and NSW concepts of operation,” Gal said, adding that the prototype was further refined based on feedback from our customers and partners following extensive field trials, further maturing SHARK for fielding.

The SHARK is operated remotely via the remote control unit (RCU). Photo: General Robotics

SHARK uses dual-axis electro-mechanical stabilization coupled with automatic tracking, video motion detection, and fire control for accurate weapon laying to deliver fast and precise firepower. This feature improves its capability to compensate for motions induced by the sea waves, platform, and target movements to engage moving targets.

But that isn’t all. When the operator presses the trigger, the AI-driven fire control runs a target prediction algorithm to align the projectile’s path and the target’s expected location and points the weapon in that direction. Only then is a burst fired. This technique has demonstrated hit accuracy of about 70 percent. This unique capability enables SHARK to be used as a naval Counter-UAS weapon. The SHARK can be mounted in this role with an optional Anti-Drone Jammer used as a ‘soft kill’ C-UAS.

Weapon control is done locally or remotely through an intuitive touch screen tablet encased in a jacket providing the intuitive operating and safety buttons for the “Point & Shoot” control. Another feature added to SHARK that benefits remote operators is the rear camera, providing the operator with a point of view to assess the weapon status and overcome malfunctions associated with the ammunition, weapon, or mount.

The integration on USV poses additional challenges since the boat’s cluttered deck and constant movement add to a situational awareness complexity, restricting the sectors of fire the weapon can use. SHARK is built for platform-independent operation; it maintains an autonomous situational awareness that includes built-in Anti-Collision functions and multiple Fire Inhibiting Zones (FIZ) and is integrated with other systems onboard. Optional integration with onboard radar enables SHARK to detect and alert hostile fires aimed at the unmanned platform and take responding measures accordingly.

The system’s size, weight, and power (SWaP) make SHARK particularly suitable for Naval Special Warfare (NSW) crafts, RHIB, and other manned or unmanned raiding crafts. It enables the crew to maximize the effect of small caliber weapons such as the 40mm automatic grenade launchers, 0.5″ heavy machine guns, and 7.62mm light machine guns.

As a veteran of Israel’s navy, Gal is accustomed to the marine environment, a knowledge that shaped the system’s design optimization to increase operational flexibility, reduce the size and weight saving, and improve reliability. “At the bottom line, the reduced weight and size derive significant benefits,” said Gal, “It means SHARK can be mounted on smaller boats and handle the recoil loads with less weight and energy. As a result, SHARK consumes less power and delivers higher accelerations, resulting in better accuracy and agility. It can be used as a stand-alone system with its sensors or integrated with other sensors onboard. In this way, we offer tailor-made combat solutions to meet the unique requirements of our customers.”

The reduced weight and size derive significant benefits. It means SHARK can be mounted on smaller boats and handle the recoil loads with less weight and energy. As a result, SHARK consumes less power and delivers higher accelerations, resulting in better accuracy and agility. Photo: General Robotics

Thai Navy to Operate Hermes-900 on Maritime Surveillance and SaR Missions

Hermes 900. Photo: IAF Magazine

Elbit Systems has received a contract valued at $120 million to supply Hermes 900 Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and training capabilities to the Royal Thai Navy. The contract will be performed over three years.

Under the contract, the Israeli company will provide the Royal Thai Navy with the UAS systems comprising aerial vehicles configured for maritime surveillance, with maritime radar, Electro-Optic (EO) payload, satellite communication, droppable inflated life rafts, and other capabilities. The Hermes 900 Maritime UAS is intended to enable the Royal Thai Navy to perform both blue water and littoral missions, dominate vast swathes of sea and long coastlines, communicate with operational vessels, and carry out civilian missions such as maritime Search and Rescue (SaR) and identification of suspicious activities and potential hazards at sea.

The Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol can operate in adverse weather conditions both day and night and can carry up to 4 life-rafts. Using its radar, it detects survivor situations. Then, its Electro-Optic/Infra-Red (EO/IR) payload will provide visual identification, and a calculation of the drop-point, to dispatch life rafts from a low-altitude of 600ft to a pin-pointed location at a safe distance from the survivors. The introduction of the unique lifesaving capability, along with survivor detection and identification capabilities and precision dispatch of live rafts enables it to perform long-range maritime SaR missions.

Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol can carry up to four, six-person life-rafts that are integrated on its wings.
On Maritime Patrol Hermes 900 can carry up to four, six-person life-rafts that are integrated on its wings. The drone can deliver the payload from a low-altitude of 600ft to a pin-pointed location at a safe distance from the survivors. A gradual inflation process of the life-rafts is initiated after dispatch and is completed upon landing.

UAS of the Hermes family has been selected to date by more than 20 customers including Israel, the UK, Switzerland, Canada, the United Nations, the European Union, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. “This is yet another vote of confidence in the Hermes family of UAS. We are experiencing a growing global demand for our unmanned solutions that are capable of effective integration with operational activities of manned forces across domains of operation, addressing a wide range of evolving threats.” Yoram Shmuely, General Manager of Elbit Systems Aerospace, said.

IDF Fields Thousands of Interactive Information Devices Assisting Dismounted Leaders

IDF Acquires thousands PDA devices with Asio's C3I Orion applications to enhance planning, communications and battle management for dismounted team leaders.

Israel Defense Forces have received thousands of ORION Systems from Asio Technologies, providing smartphone-based hand-held interactive information devices for junior officers and team leaders. The ‘Olar’ and ‘Amud’ systems, as the IDF calls them, is designed as rugged and secured mobile device based on the Android platform. The system enables mission planning, navigation, positioning, and enhanced situational awareness using a three dimensional GIS database and Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities.

The system provides a scalable, multilayered, networked situational awareness solution with an intuitive and interactive interface. It operates online and offline, serving the individual soldier or commander up to the battalion level, allowing them to get real-time updates from each other, exchange regarding locations of friendly forces, handoff hostile locations, and additional mission-critical information.

Performing functions similar to the US Army Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK), the Orion system communicates and interfaces with other ASIO Technologies tactical solutions, such as the LYNX tactical hand-held day/night situation awareness system and RIGEL tactical smartwatch, to provide a fully integrated tactical combat suit for ground forces.

Using the Android platform, ORION enables mission planning, navigation, positioning, and enhanced situational awareness using the GIS database and Augmented Reality (AR) capabilities. Photo: Asio Technologies

Israel’s Rafael Acquires British Land Systems’ Specialist Pearson Engineering

Executive teams from Pearson-Engineering and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems have met at the recent DVD2022 event to advance the acquisition sealed today. Photo: Pearson Engineering

Israel’s defense company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has completed the acquisition of the British defense specialist company Pearson Engineering Ltd. The acquisition was executed under a stock purchase agreement (SPA), transferring 100% of the ownership. The acquisition includes Pearson’s metalworks subsidiary company Responsive Engineering Ltd.

According to M.G (ret.) Yoav Har-Even, RAFAEL’S President and CEO, this acquisition is part of RAFAEL’s continued strategic investments to transfer cutting-edge, state-of-the-art technologies, products, and systems into the United Kingdom, addressing UK national security and economic interests. “Until recently, most of RAFAEL’s operations in the UK were in partnership with UK prime contractors, with the majority of workshare manufactured in Israel,” Har-Even said. “By acquiring Pearson and Responsive Engineering we will be able to enhance and expand manufacturing capabilities in the UK, thus strengthening our UK supply chain to better support our customers, especially the UK MOD and British armed forces. This will lead to a significant increase in the number of jobs in Newcastle and will build strong links with academic institutions throughout the UK and specifically in North East England.” Har-Even said.

“RAFAEL’s ambition for Pearson and Responsive brings valuable growth and stability for our employees, our trusted supply partners in the region, and the wider community in the North East. It will undoubtedly create more jobs and generate exciting career opportunities within both companies”, Craig Priday, Pearson Engineering Managing Director added.

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RAFAEL is a world-renowned, Israeli-based defense contractor specializing in cutting-edge, innovative defense systems. Spanning many areas of defense, Rafael’s land systems activities include the development and production of ballistic and active protection systems, development, design, production, and integration of turrets for armored vehicles, counter IEDs, missiles, and more. Rafael is Israel’s third largest defense company, with 8,000+ employees and over 30 subsidiaries worldwide, serving the defense, security, and aerospace markets. As a global organization, Rafael has bolstered its presence in its main markets including the US, India, South Korea, and most European NATO member countries. The acquisition will expand its presence in the UK, where RAFAEL already has significant projects underway. Pearson Engineering will be joining the RAFAEL UK group. The move received approval from the UK Ministry of Defence and the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Yemeni Houthis Display Iranian Drones and Loitering Missiles

New ballistic, cruise and loitering missiles were shown by the Houthis in the recent military parade in Sanaa, Yemen. We reviewed the new cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and naval attack weapons in three recent posts. Parallel to the development of ballistic missiles, Iran is pursuing various types of aerial weapons based on unmanned aerial systems technologies.

Shahed 131 and 136 are two models that have recently captured media attention. Still, these simple and rudimentary delta-winged ‘flying bombs’ are only one type of a wide family of loitering weapons that Iran has used to hit targets far beyond its borders, dating back to the attack on Saudi oil fields in 2019.

Among many types of loitering missiles and attack drones displayed was the local version of the Iranian Shahed 136 – the Wa’id, new models of Samad and Qhasef, loitering missiles, Rased weaponized mini-drones, VTOL variant of Mersad-2, and the Masir hexacopter weaponized drone that was also demonstrated in formation flight.

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