"UAVs have become an inseparable part of today’s battlefield, and are of the utmost importance,” says Shaul Shahar, Corporate VP and General Manager of IAI's Military Aircraft Group.
Operation Protective Edge, conducted in the summer of 2014, proved once again that the use of UAVs has become dominant on the modern battlefield. UAVs flew tens of thousands of flight hours during the operation, performing intelligence gathering and other missions.
Shahar says that “UAVs and their operators are best qualified to perform the preliminary intelligence work, which is a mandatory prerequisite in every mission. UAVs play a major role in providing the preliminary intelligence and in routing fighter aircraft and ground forces to the focal points of the mission in both urban and open combat zones.
“The importance of the UAVs in accompanying the mission stems from their ability to collect intelligence from the air in real time. These are state-of-the-art operational systems capable of dominating expansive areas for long periods of time and collecting highly-detailed intelligence on the ground, including the whereabouts and movements of civilians. They perform these activities using highly advanced payloads, capable of providing optimal terrain dominance, including day and night surveillance payloads, Radar payloads and Signals Intelligence (SigInt) payloads.”
According to Shahar, “The information provided by the UAVs is conveyed to the operational field echelons and, at the same time, to the decision makers at the main command centers. These capabilities, combined with the abilities to disseminate the information in real time, position the UAVs as suppliers of a broad picture that enables the recipients to deduce and understand the future implications on the opposing force.
“UAVs cooperate closely with the ground forces and enable accurate guidance of the ground forces so as to avoid harming civilians. The system is very flexible in terms of its architecture and its ability to accommodate payloads and applications, including advanced communication systems. The scope of activity is enormous – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at different flight levels and on a diversified range of missions. This command span has a very long arm.
“From the operational point of view, any activity that incorporates UAVs enables the user to gain experience, improve and introduce new systems and new and advanced payloads for intelligence-gathering purposes, all in order to enable optimal terrain dominance to the complete satisfaction of the users. IAI offers an extensive range of dedicated UAVs. The systems have demonstrated competence, reliability and a high degree of operational flexibility and provide unique and unprecedented intelligence.”
Col. (res.) Shaul Shahar, who commanded the MUAV squadron of the IDF Intelligence Directorate during his military service, explains that in most of today’s complex conflicts, worldwide, civilian population is present and the need to protect the uninvolved has become vital. “UAVs make a decisive contribution, beginning at the stages prior to the actual battle, in minimizing the damage to the civilian population, through the real-time accompaniment of the entire course of the fighting, to the analysis of the results of the various moves made on the battlefield. Without the UAVs’ involvement and accompaniment, there is no doubt that the chances of collateral damage would have been much higher,” he explains.
IAI offers an extensive range of UAV models that have logged more than 1,200,000 operational flight hours worldwide. The UAV range developed and manufactured by IAI includes the Heron, Heron-TP and Searcher, as well as such tactical UAV/UAS models as the Panther, the Ghost, the Bird Eye Mini UAS family and other models. “There is not a single continent around the globe where UAVs by IAI are not active. Our UAVs are operated by about fifty international clients,” concludes Shahar.
(Israel Defense News)