IDF encrypting more drones amid hacking concerns

Decision to encrypt new model of Skylark I UAV stems from probe revealing intercepted surveillance footage's role in “Shayetet Disaster.”

By
June 12, 2012 06:39
2 minute read.
AN IDF soldier launches a Skylark UAV

Skylark UAV I 370. (photo credit: dover.idf.il)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For a symbolic $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Don't show it again

The IDF is continuing to encrypt its unmanned aerial vehicles amid concern that Israel’s adversaries have gained technology which enables them to intercept surveillance footage.

In the coming months, the Ground Forces Command will take delivery of a new model of the Skylark I UAV – developed by Elbit Systems – which will come with a new encryption system aimed at preventing enemy forces from intercepting its footage.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The Skylark I drone has been supplied over the past two years to IDF battalions as part of the “Sky Rider Program,” which was created to provide battalion commanders with their own aerial surveillance capabilities without needing to rely on the Israel Air Force.

The Skylarks currently in IDF use were recently grounded after the landing airbag opened unexpectedly on a number of drones in mid-flight. The Skylark I lands by opening an airbag which it lands on to prevent damage to the body of the aircraft.

The man-portable Skylark I weighs around 6 kilograms and is designed for “under the clouds” reconnaissance missions.

It can be launched by hand or a catapult and has an operational endurance of around three hours at altitudes of up to 3,000 feet.

In addition to the built-in encryption, the new batch of Skylarks will also include a control system enabling commanders to switch between UAVs during missions without interrupting the tracking of a target.



The requirement to encrypt drones was issued to domestic defense contractors by the IDF in 2010 after a military probe concluded that Hezbollah succeeded in ambushing a Navy commando force in 1997 after intercepting surveillance footage of a planned raid in Lebanon.

In what has been called the “Shayetet Disaster,” 11 commandos from the Navy’s Flotilla 13 – known as the Shayetet – were killed in a Hezbollah ambush in 1997, including the commander of the force, Lt.-Col. Yossi Korakin.

The IDF assumption had been that the ambush was random and that Hezbollah did not have advance intelligence about the raid on the Ansariya Beach in Lebanon.

In August 2010, though, Hezbollah Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah revealed footage from what he claimed was an Israeli UAV that had conducted surveillance over the area that the commandos were supposed to raid.

After Nasrallah’s press conference, then-IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi ordered the Navy, Military Intelligence and the IDF’s C4I Directorate to establish a panel of experts to investigate whether the Hezbollah footage was genuine. The team concluded that it was and had been intercepted during an Israeli surveillance mission over the planned raid area.


Related Content

idf hebron
August 22, 2014
Palestinians throw Molotov cocktail at IDF checkpoint in Hebron

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH, TOVAH LAZAROFF