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Friday, October 22, 2004

Israelis tested new high tech systems in clashes with Palestinians

TEL AVIV – Israel has successfully demonstrated a series of advanced military systems during the war against Palestinian insurgency groups.

Officials said the equipment included unmanned air vehicles, anti-tank missiles and munitions, laser-targeting devices and electronic warfare systems. They said some of these systems would not be fully deployed until 2009.

"Many of these systems were developed to counter a conventional military threat, particularly from Syria," an official said. "Instead, we have found ourselves testing these systems in operations against the Palestinians and see that the equipment can be used in multiple applications."

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the Israeli military has employed what he termed "unique measures" in the Gaza Strip, Middle East Newsline reported. Mofaz said this included new systems and technology, but would not elaborate.

Officials said the new systems successfully demonstrated the fusion of tactical intelligence, airborne platforms and precision-guided weapons. They said the systems have significantly reduced the so-called sensor-to-shooter loop, in which the military has sought to destroy a target within minutes of its identification.

"Israel has adopted the U.S. model of a network-centric force," Col. Didi Ben Yoash, a former senior Defense Ministry official, said. "The use of network-centric is meant to achieve firepower superiority."

The new systems have been tested separately and within a network in both battlefield and laboratory environments. This week, the Ground Forces Command staged a company-level urban warfare simulation to demonstrate the military's network-centric capability.

Officials said one of the goals of the exercise – held at Rafael, Israel Armament Development Authority and scheduled to end on Thursday – sought to overcome limitations on bandwidth communications, a key obstacle to network-centric systems. They said the military planned to conduct a folo-up exercise in February 2005.

Israel invests about $700 million a year in defense research and development, focusing on systems meant to bolster firepower, targeting capability and intelligence, officials said. At a recent conference by the military's C4I directorate, a senior officer disclosed a range of new capabilities developed for both urban and conventional warfare.

Col. Ehud Gal, a former senior official in the Defense Ministry, said Israel has tested a range of new UAVs. Gal, who served as a deputy science chief in the ministry's Defense Research Directorate, said the platforms included micro and combat UAVs.

"We tested a micro-UAV equipped with a camera that went around the room and out the window," Gal told the C4I conference on May 18.

Gal said the military has demonstrated Israeli UAV capability to detect, track and destroy ground vehicles. Gal said the Israeli combat UAV effort was based on the Harpy, an unmanned platform meant to destroy radars and bunkers. He said the Harpy was introduced in the late 1980s but kept under wraps until 1999.

Other capabilities disclosed in the conference were the development of a 30-kilogram micro-satellite and a 155 mm artillery shell that could split into four autonomous warheads. Officers also told of a system that could disrupt and deceive enemy GPS.

"The future battlefield is becoming empty," Gal said. "If you are there, you are destroyed. The only options are stealth or autonomous systems."