Israeli robots remake battlefield
Israel is developing an army of robotic fighting machines that offers a window onto the potential future of warfare.
Sixty years of near-constant war, a low tolerance for enduring casualties in conflict, and its high-tech industry have long made Israel one of the world’s leading innovators of military robotics.
“We’re trying to get to unmanned vehicles everywhere on the battlefield for each platoon in the field,” says Lt. Col. Oren Berebbi, head of the Israel Defense Forces’ technology branch. “We can do more and more missions without putting a soldier at risk.”
In 10 to 15 years, one-third of Israel’s military machines will be unmanned, predicts Giora Katz, vice president of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., one of Israel’s leading weapons manufacturers.
“We are moving into the robotic era,” says Mr. Katz.
Over 40 countries have military-robotics programs today. The U.S. and much of the rest of the world is betting big on the role of aerial drones: Even Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite guerrilla force in Lebanon, flew four Iranian-made drones against Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War. [continued…]
How comforting it is to hear that the Israeli Defence Force now has unmanned ground vehicles to patrol the Gaza and Lebanon borders;remote controlled bulldozers able to destroy even more of the Gazan social infrastructure;unmanned heavily armed speed-boats able to harass Gazan fishermen in the small area that they are permitted to fish, and missile firing drones. All of these, useful additions to the white phosphorus and flechette bombs used against the civilian population of Gaza in the very moral operation called ‘Cast Lead’ one year ago. Perhaps these are not the only things that are ‘un-manned’.