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Oct 25, 2013

SEPTEMBER 5, 2017 16:21

Israel's Defense Ministry invests in technology "no one else believes in," determining future warfare.

As the nation’s enemies continue to develop their military capabilities, Israel strives to stay at least one step ahead, predicting what types of technology will be needed in future wars.

“MAFAT is trying to predict the future battlefield, both in terms of threat and technologically,” Brig.-Gen. (res.) Dr. Danny Gold, head of the Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (MAFAT), said on Monday during a briefing for military correspondents at the Kirya army headquarters in Tel Aviv.

MAFAT, which works with the IDF and civilian companies and engages in extensive cooperation with many countries around the world, is critical in providing the technology that make it possible for the IDF to outflank its enemies in all areas.

Gold outlined several systems expected to be used by the IDF, including advanced facial-recognition technology, an armed, lightweight quadcopter developed by an Israeli start-up company and a new armored fighting vehicle.

Drawing lessons from 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, where IDF soldiers fought in narrow streets and alleys in the Gaza Strip, the 35-ton, tracked AVF is designed to be simple to operate, relatively inexpensive, agile and lethal with firepower designed for close and urban combat.

The AFV, called Carmel (a Hebrew acronym for Advanced Ground Combat Vehicle), is under development by MAFAT and the Defense Ministry’s Merkava Tank Administration and will “constitute a quantum leap” in the field of armored vehicles, Gold said.

As part of the multi-year project, breakthrough technologies are being developed for the Carmel, including modular transparent armor, next-generation cooperative active protection, an IED alert and neutralization system, and a hybrid engine.

While MAFAT expects the development and demonstration testing of the Carmel to extend over the coming decade or more, the first stage of the development plan is proof of its feasibility, Gold said.

Israel is staying one step ahead of her enemies such as Iran and other countries that have “dramatically improved” their military capabilities, he said.

Gold, who took up his post last year, added that even beyond the Islamic Republic, there has been an expansion of the threats facing Israel, including the continued transfer of advanced weapons to the Middle East, the increase in the intensity and accuracy of firepower by enemy states and sub-state groups, and threats in the cyber domain.

“We want total protection and intelligence control in cyberspace,” Gold said, explaining that the use of advanced cameras and other technological advancements were of significant help in the early prevention of terrorist attacks during the recent wave of Palestinian violence in the West Bank.

MAFAT is investing significant effort and funds into safeguarding the borders from existing and future threats, be they from missiles or drones, cyber attacks, and threats from underwater and underground, he said.

“What do we need to have in order to be ahead of our enemy? It’s very complicated to think ahead of time how each solution will fit everything,” he said, explaining that Israel need robustness and flexibility in all defense systems in order to locate and eliminate any and all possible targets.

“For example, the threat posed by precision missiles, it was clear to me that 10 years ago this type of threat would eventuate,” Gold said. Another system developed with the help of MAFAT is the Barak-8 radar, which has since been sold for billions of dollars to international clients.

“This was built on the technology that we invested in when no one else believed in it,” he said.

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Oct 25, 2013
Israel's Defense Ministry unveils tomorrow's weapons

A stealth tank, unmanned submarine and sniper drone that can carry a 90-kilogram payload are among the new systems developed by the Ministry of Defense.

An especially agile and deadly stealth tank; an unmanned submarine for missions remote from Israel's borders; an unmanned helicopter capable of bearing supplies to forces on the battlefield; and a special system that will make every rifle shot accurate and deadly are only some of the new systems developed by Israel's Ministry of Defense Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (MAFAT) and unveiled yesterday in a special press briefing by MAFAT head Brigadier General (res.) Daniel Gold for reporters on military affairs.

MAFAT is currently conducting 1,500 research and development ventures. Yesterday's briefing shows how the IDF will deal with the security challenges facing it in the coming decades.

The main goal is preserving the IDF and Ministry of Defense's technological advantage over the countries in the region and the terrorist organizations operating in and from it. Billions of shekels are being spent each year on developments, most of them secret, which are aimed at facilitating the realization of MAFAT's vision: sealing Israel's borders, including finding a solution for the underground threat - principally the tunnels in the Gaza Strip and on the Lebanese border; eliminating terrorism; destroying enemy targets in real time throughout the Middle East; improving the survivability, mobility, and maneuverability of armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) and tanks; and achieving superiority in cyberspace.

A large proportion of this work involves close and intensive connections of MAFAT with startups making their first steps towards big solutions. Some of these ideas will take years before they mature technologically into a product. Some will never materialize, as is often the case with R&D plans.

The future tank

Carmel, one of the impressive plans that MAFAT has been working on in recent years, together with the Ministry of Defense Tank Program Administration (TPA), involves the IDF's future tank. TPA is currently producing the most advanced version of the tank in use by the IDF Armored Corps - the Merkava 4. Dozens of these tanks rolling off the assembly line of the repair and maintenance center at the Tel Hashomer base each year are equipped with the most advanced technologies that make the Merkava an especially threatening, deadly, and well-protected war machine - due, among other things, to the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.'s Trophy active defense system, which is designed to intercept threats like advanced anti-tank missiles and RPG rockets.

The Carmel, however, will be completely different. MAFAT's plans are for a tank that will be small, agile, lightweight, easy to operate, and cheaper than the expensive tanks currently being sold on the market.

The top-secret tank's performance so far has been impressive. Demonstrations have been confined to Ministry of Defense simulations. "Its maneuvering capabilities will be very good, the team operating it will be substantially smaller - perhaps two or three soldiers, it will be powered by a hybrid electrical propulsion system, and it will also have an unmanned and groundbreaking version," Gold told the reporters.

MAFAT believes that a final decision on progress in the future tank program is about three years off. The parties who will make the decision about the program will be shown a deadly war machine that is the stuff of science fiction. It will be equipped with "transparent armor," so that the crew, which will be invisible inside it, will see events outside through an advanced system of touch screens constantly informing the crew of what the many cameras installed on it are photographing. Another possibility also currently under consideration by MAFAT is giving every crew member an advanced smart helmet, similar to the advanced helmets worn by airplane pilot, which constantly broadcasts and screen all the information needed by the soldier on the battlefield.

The future tank's most outstanding feature is its evasiveness, or as the Ministry of Defense puts it, its "invisible signature." For observation or detection systems, the tank's presence in the field will be so well hidden as to be completely invisible. "There are all sorts of methods that have enabled us to achieve this, but it won't happen tomorrow morning," Gold says. "The goal is to improve survival capabilities in the maneuvering of ground forces."

The future tank will be able to both defend itself with active defense systems and provide perimeter defense for vehicles following it if it is leading a battlefield convoy, including infantry forces operating around it. It will take the lead and detect the threat aimed at the forces, and destroy them in time. The tank will also have a solution for mines laid in its path; it will be able to detect and destroy them on the move. "As of now, we are not investing in the vehicle itself; we are investing in the technologies that will be installed on it. Several defense companies are involved in this," Gold says.

While the development of autonomous vehicles is attracting a great deal of fanfare, MAFAT is also looking ahead, with the aim of improving the capabilities of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), several models of which are already being used for missions such as border defense. The IDF has such vehicles, which are being used for border patrols, logistical transportation, and light engineering missions. Putting them into use is still slow, however, and their operational use is on a small scale.

The Ministry of Defense sees all the autonomous vehicle ventures being developed in the civilian sphere, but aimed at other purposes. While the future autonomous vehicles are designed to travel on paved roads, the IDF wants UGVs able to travel in field conditions and battle conditions, and which will have highly developed navigability capabilities, and also with remote firing capabilities.

Another development revealed yesterday by MAFAT is designed to make it possible to control an area without a presence there through the use of many hundreds of miniature sensors dispersed in it. The sensors will monitory, photograph, and listen to everything that moves in the area. "These sensors can be dropped from the air, which makes it possible to disperse them in the area and use them for monitoring. We're making great progress in this area, and have already conducted a very large and successful trial," Gold declares. Asked whether these sensors or others like them will also be able to explode next to a human target defined for them and destroy it, Gold said yes.

Sea trial

Another program is for the development of an unmanned submarine. There are two such plans for an autonomous miniature submarine designed for scanning and mapping missions. The unmanned submarine is being developed together with a research team from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. A larger unmanned submarine, called Kisaron, is designed for covert missions, mainly intelligence gathering. Gold says that this intriguing vessel has already undergone a trial at sea.

Other programs in various development stages include a system called "First Bullet," aimed at dramatically upgrading the use of firearms. This electro-optical system will be installed on infantry assault rifles. It facilitates hitting the target accurately with a single rifle bullet in any situation and in any firing scenario.

By using the system, developed by a tiny startup, a combatant can press the trigger, but the rifle will shoot the bullet only when the target appears in the center of the sight, thereby ensuring an accurate hit. The Ministry of Defense says that trials of the system, its use significantly increased the percentage of hits, and reduced the risk of hitting uninvolved bystanders in an urban warfare scenario.

MAFAT is also devoting a great deal of thought to air operations. It is refusing to disclose the major projects involving the next generation of UAVs that the defense industries are working on, but is unveiling programs for drones. One of these programs, funded by MAFAT, involves the use of a drone to conduct accurate sniper fire, while achieving battlefield surprise. The system will be tested in the coming year.

In addition, MAFAT is interested in a development plan by Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE:
IAI inaugurates National Strategic SIGINT Center

Elbit Systems wins $11m Asia-Pacific navy deal
Asked about the budget available to him for the 1,500 development programs that teams are working on, Gold does not mention any figures, claiming that the answer is "too complicated, and in any case classified."

Each one of the three special MAFAT administrations has a separate budget from the defense budget, in addition to MAFAT's basic annual NIS 800 million R&D budget.

The three MAFAT administrations are Homa, which is responsible for air defense against rockets and missiles; the Etgar space administration, which deals with satellites; and the UAV administration. In addition to these administrations, MAFAT also has six units operating in it, two centers, including research and technological infrastructure, and R&D.

In addition to the 500 officers and civilians employed in MAFAT's unit, it subsidizes the salaries of 2,000 researchers and employees in higher education and the defense industries that it classifies as "knowledge hubs."

These 2,000 civilians are committed as part of their jobs to MAFAT's tasks in accordance with multi-year work plans, and the same is true of cooperative efforts with other defense companies for the sake of ventures of national importance.

The defense industries pay these workers' salaries, but receive subsidies from MAFAT.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on September 6, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017


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