Rapid-fire rocket system aims to reduce civilian casualties

With the rise in guerrilla warfare, the Israeli Air Force has adapted its helicopters to detect, track and attack lone terrorists.

December 31, 2010 05:30
1 minute read.
Apache attack helicopter

Apache helicopter 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

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.

“The new 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.”

Both 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 terrorists.

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.

In 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.

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