As the nation’s enemies continue to develop their military capabilities, Israel works 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, cyberattacks, and threats from underwater and underground, he said.
One project currently in the works to protect Israel from naval threats are two unmanned submarines. One, named Caesar, is a small submarine that would be used primarily for reconnaissance and mapping missions. Developed in cooperation with Ben-Gurion University, the Caesar is at the forefront of global technology, characterized by its ability to dive rapidly and almost vertically.
“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,” Gold 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.