In an effort to minimize collateral damage in future urban operations, the
Israeli Air Force has decided to purchase a new rapid-fire rocket system for its
Apache attack helicopters.
The IAF has yet to decide between two
different systems – the Hydra 70, which is used by the United States Army, and
the CRV7 of the British Air Force. The advantage of both weapon systems is that
the rockets hang inside tubes on the helicopters’ fins and are lightweight,
cheap and can be fired in a rapid sequence. The Hydra 70, for example, can come
in a launcher with 19 rockets.
Currently, the IAF’s fleet of Apache
helicopters, manufactured by Boeing Company, come with a chain machine gun under
their belly and carry mostly Hellfire missiles on their fins.
rocket systems are advantageous since they are cheaper and provide us with rapid
fire capabilities,” a senior IAF officer said this week. “They also minimize
collateral damage since they are smaller than regular missiles.”
rockets are intended for use against personnel, such as terrorist cells detected
preparing to launch rockets in the Gaza Strip. Traditionally, helicopters were
developed as attack platforms to fight tanks with anti-tank missiles like
Hellfire and Israel’s Spike. But over the years, with the rise in guerrilla
warfare, Israel has adapted its helicopters to detect, track and attack lone
During Operation Cast Lead two years ago, due to the limited
scope of the operation, the IAF was able to allocate a squadron of attack
helicopters that worked in conjunction with infantry brigades operating on the
ground. This organic system, a senior IAF officer said, would not be able to
work in a larger conflict due to the IAF’s limited number of aircraft.
the coming months, the IAF hopes to receive back from the US three Apaches that
it sent there to be upgraded to the new “D” model Longbow version with the
above-rotor advanced radar system, which enables the helicopter to share
targeting data with other Longbows.