IDF seeks more accurate mortar to prevent int'l criticism

Proposed guidance system would likely be based on satellites to guide a mortar shell to its target, preventing collateral damage.

August 10, 2011 03:30
1 minute read.
IDF soldiers near the Gaza border

IDF soldiers near Gaza border 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

In an effort to prevent collateral damage and international criticism following a future operation, the IDF is looking to develop a guidance system that can be installed on mortar shells, which Israeli infantry units use in urban combat.

The guidance system would likely be based on satellites to guide a mortar shell to its target.

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Mortars, in their current configuration, are said to be accurate up to 30 meters within their target’s coordinates.

“We would like to bring the accuracy up to be able to land within just a couple of meters of the target,” a senior officer in the IDF Ground Forces Command said.

The idea would be to create a kit that can be installed on a mortar shell turning it from an inaccurate weapon to a satellite- guided precision munition.

“It would be like the JDAM kits that are installed on air force bombs and turn them from unguided weapons to accurate munitions,” the officer said.

The kit would then be installed on shells that are fired by the “Keshet” – an autonomous and rapid fire shell launcher developed by Soltam Systems and supplied to infantry units in 2008 and successfully used by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2009.

Keshet comes installed on IDF armored personnel carriers and provides infantry commanders with independent heavy firepower.

IDF officers hope that the integration of the new system will help minimize criticism of future Israeli military operations, and avoid what happened after the Gaza offensive with the publication of the Goldstone Report accusing Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Development of the guidance system is part of a general IDF effort to obtain accurate weapons ahead of a future conflict, such as new short-range rockets that will be procured for the Artillery Corps in the coming year.

The IDF has held a number of tests with GPS guided mortars developed by Elbit Systems and Israel Military Industries as well as with guidance systems developed by Rokar, an Israeli subsidiary of BAE Systems that can be integrated with mortar shells.

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