Hundreds of mobile sirens suitable for rapid deployment in every section of land for the purpose of providing real-time alerts of shooting are the IDF's answer, at least as of now, to the heavy mortar barrages that will be launched at IDF forces in a future conflict between Israel and the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.
Motorola is producing the sirens, which were developed by the IDF. Large scale procurement of them began a few months after Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 as part of the lessons learned from that conflict.
While the Iron Dome system successfully intercepted hundreds of rockets and missiles launched from the Gaza Strip deep within Israeli territory, soldiers present in military assembly areas near the border with the Gaza Strip and residents of the communities in the area remained defenseless against the mortar threat.
"2-3 seconds for a warning is a long time"
The mobile sirens were developed by home front teams and the C4I Corps. They are weather resistant, capable of operating at all hours of the day in heat waves and storms, and can issue a life-saving warning, even within the thick cloud of dust left in its trail by a Merkava tank.
They are carried on available platforms capable of reaching every section of land in which the army wants to provide its forces with warning about possible firing: APCs, jeeps, tanks, etc.
They are connectable to a variety of power sources. After the radar systems operated by the air force detect a launching at a specific section of territory, the sirens will issue a warning to those present in it, giving them 25 seconds to take cover.
25 seconds is lot of time when you know how to protect yourself and have somewhere to go. Over the past year, the warning time for mortar fire from the Gaza Strip has been lengthened by a few more seconds, largely due to extensive deployment of special Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: RADA)-made radar systems along the border with the Gaza Strip.
The radar systems detect launchings of missiles, rockets, or mortars from the Gaza Strip, send a warning to the air force, and the system of sirens is then activated.
The mobile sirens will also accompany IDF forces in their assembly areas during the next conflict, or will enter with the forces into the combat zone. They will be operated in real time, and call on those present in the threatened area to protect themselves. "Over the past year, every case of shells or rockets falling in the area around the Gaza Strip was preceded by a 15-25-second warning," says a senior Home Front Command officer. "Since Operation Protective Edge, we have changed the entire problem of detecting the threat and distributing the warning. Every two or three seconds are precious for a warning - it's a lot."
Concentrations of forces near the combat zones are a vulnerable point in any round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, and the same was true in the Second Lebanon War. A painful reminder of this occurred on August 6, 2006, near the cemetery in Kfar Giladi, when a Katyusha rocket hit a concentration of reserves from the Paratroopers Brigade. 12 soldiers were killed.
In the absence of an effective technological solution to the mortars problem - during Operation Protective Edge, the IDF and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) subsidiary Elta Systems tried to improvise an intermediate solution by expediting the launching of a new mobile radar system called Green Rock. Such systems were deployed close to the assembly areas close to the Gaza Strip. After they detected enemy firing, they calculated the path of the threat, made a hypothesis about where it would land, and provide several seconds of warning to the people there. The IDF now believes that it has a complete and better designed kit of protective measures for the forces exposed to mortar barrages, and is considering the possibility of also producing a civilian version of the new sirens that can be placed in the communications close to the Gaza Strip and in populous areas.
Concern about another round of conflict
The ideal solution to the mortar threat, intercepting them the way Iron Dome intercepts rockets and missiles, is not on the horizon. That does not mean, however, that work and a good deal of thought are not being channeled in this direction. The defense industries have been working hard for years on developing a technological solution to the mortar threat, so that they can be intercepted in the air, despite their short flying time, in comparison with rockets and missiles.
It was previously reported that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., which led the development of the Iron Dome and David's Sling defensive systems, was investing in development of a new system that would use laser beams to intercept mortar shells.
At the same time, foreign companies around the world are also working on developments in this area, and the Ministry of Defense is constantly keeping track of their progress. It is very reasonable to assume that an effective technological solution to this problem will also be found at some point. Up until a decade ago, no country in the world had the ability to destroy flying rockets, nor was a single army capable of protecting its tanks and APCs against RPG and anti-tank rockets. The IDF was the first army to install such systems, both of them developed by Israel defense industries.
Two and a half years after Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, the politicians are tensely awaiting the publication of the State Comptroller's report dealing with the functioning of the cabinet and the IDF's preparations for the tunnels threat. Defense sources are warning that Hamas has already rebuilt the capabilities it lost during the 50-day of fighting in 2014. In the communities near the Gaza Strip and in southern Israel, they know that another round of conflict that will send them into the bomb shelters is only a matter of time.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on February 9, 2017
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