IDF seeking expanded use of robotic systems

In effort to minimize risk to soldiers, IDF looks to obtain a budget for the development and procurement of new robotic systems.

July 27, 2012 02:21
3 minute read.
Revolutionary new UAV, the AirMule

AirMule 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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In the face of new conflicts in urban settings, the IDF is looking to obtain a budget for the development and procurement of new robotic systems it hopes will provide soldiers with an edge on a future battlefield.

While the IDF has used robots for a number of years – mostly with unmanned aerial vehicles in the air force and in the Combat Engineering Corps – it is looking to expand the use of robotic systems with the aim of minimizing risks to soldiers.

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One of the systems – the AirMule – is a revolutionary UAV that can fly like a helicopter and evacuate wounded soldiers in its hull from any terrain.

Developed by Urban Aeronautics, the AirMule has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. The IDF Logistics Directorate is hoping that in the General Staff’s upcoming deliberations over the defense budget, it will secure the funding to complete the development of the aircraft.

“This is a revolutionary system that can fly like a helicopter into a battlefield and evacuate two soldiers at a time,” a senior officer from the Logistics Directorate said this week.

The IDF’s interest in the AirMule stems from lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War, when a large number of casualties needed to be evacuated by air. In a future war, the IDF is concerned about the existence of surface-to-air missile systems in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and the risk they pose particularly to helicopters.

If budgeted under the IDF’s upcoming multi-year procurement plan, the AirMule could be operational within the coming five years and would likely be deployed on a division level.


Another system, the Advance Guard, is a new unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that the IDF Ground Forces Command has been developing for long-range reconnaissance missions.

The new UGV would operate like the Guardium, which is used along Israel’s border with Gaza for routine patrols.

The Advance Guard’s basic configuration will carry a number of video cameras, with the ability to connect to the IDF’s digital army network and transfer data between other land systems.

It will also be capable of carrying a variety of lethal and non-lethal weapons.

“This UGV would be able to go ahead of a force and scout out what is happening before sending troops ahead,” an officer in the Ground Forces Command explained.

Guardium , already in use, operates much like the Advance Guard – a new UGV under development by the IDF – will (Courtesy)

A third system, called the Flying Elephant and under development by Elbit Systems, is also awaiting an IDF procurement budget. A longrange power-propelled parachute, the Flying Elephant is capable of carrying supplies to troops operating behind enemy lines.

Powered by a propeller engine and launched by a catapult system, the parachute uses a special handle to lift cargo once airborne.

It then use GPS to locate the landing site and has a level of accuracy of approximately 30 meters within the designated coordinates as well as an operational range of approximately 30 kilometers.

“This will help us get supplies to forces operating behind enemy lines in a way that does not endanger soldiers,” the officer from the Logistics Directorate explained.

Lastly, the IDF’s Combat Engineering Corps is developing a new robot to uncover and neutralize improvised explosive devices. The robot, which uses an automatic navigation system, would enter enemy territory ahead of troops and serve as a “tracker” with the capability to detect hidden bombs.

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