June 20, 2016
Eurosatory, Europe’s most important defense conference, will feature several impressive Israeli innovations: A new robotic vehicle, an anti-drone defense system, and an impressively stealthy unmanned aerial vehicle to name but a few.
Israel’s presence at the Euro 2016 soccer championships, taking place in France, may be limited to the audience at home (and some lucky spectators who managed to get tickets), but at Eurosatory—Europe’s most important weapons and defense expo—Israel will have a central role. A large number of innovative new products made by firms from the holy land will be shown at the conference.
Aside from classic weapons systems like long-range missiles and defense systems for armored vehicles, the show will feature modern warfare products such as a weapon-wielding robot, an anti-drone defense system, a special “pilot’s helmet” for tank personnel, and more.
Israeli defense exports declined to the level of $5.3 billion, but SIBAT (the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Cooperation Directorate) head Michel Ben Baruch is optimistic. “We come to Paris as a defense superpower, (and now you can) already assume that defense exports in 2016 will be at least as plentiful as they were last year. Europe, which has been dealing with terrorism, border protection, and illegal immigration-related challenges in the past few years, is showing increasing amounts of interest in Israeli technologies in the field.”
Israel Military Industries (IMI) has announced that its tank defense system, Hetz Dorban (“Spur Arrow”) was selected for a trial run by the US Army on several of its armored vehicles. The US Marine Corps intends on testing the equivalent Windbreaker (“Meil Ruach”) system, manufactured by Israeli arms company Rafael, which is already operational in the IDF.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which counts manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles as a specialty, is now attempting to implement its knowledge by offering the market new unmanned ground attack vehicles. Its new robot is an autonomous, six-wheeled machine with high maneuverability. It can be armed with remote-controlled weapons systems, and used for attack missions, intelligence gathering, and more.
Elbit Systems, which specializes in making advanced helmets for pilots, including those used in the new F-35 stealth fighter jets, is moving to ground warfare as well, introducing a new line of helmets for armored vehicle personnel. The new headgear will allow tank drivers and commanders to see a 360-degree picture of the terrain around them, including information about nearby threats.
IAI is reporting initial sales of its Drone Guard system, which can locate, identify, and interrupt activity by drones. The system has been purchased by several customers for protection of strategic sites, and included systems that can jam the drone’s communication with its operators.
Multicopter drones will also be entering the battlefield: Rafael will be presenting the Firefly, a tactical multirotor that will provide information in real-time so that an operating soldier in the field will be able to provide information to his comrades on a target that they need to capture or purge. The device weighs only three kilograms and is remote controlled for distances of up to a kilometer and can stay afloat continuously for a half hour.
There is no war that subsequent investigations do not reveal that too much time passes from the requests for aerial or ground support until the actual arrival or warplanes or helicopters. IMI’s new “Predator Hawk” (“Netz Dores”) has an extremely long range: 300 km. With a warhead weighing up to 200 kg, it can partially replace air force sorties, is relatively inexpensive, keeps more pilots out of danger and reaches its target in mere tens of seconds. Equipped with GPS and the ability to correct its route in air, it can strike within ten meters. In the future, it will be possible to be launched from naval missile boats.
IAI began producing recently hundreds of drones of the new type Bird-Eye 650D, after having received orders from military and civilian entities. The small UAV is equipped with a gasoline engine, but it is also relatively quiet, which allows it to operate without being detected on intelligence-gathering missions and escorting convoys, as well as on civilian agricultural missions, inspecting power lines and forests. It can stay aloft for 15 continuous hours and cover an area of up to 150 square kilometers. Its flight is automatic.