IDF setting up an operational Internet

Programmers experimenting with military technology involving augmented reality and the 'Internet of things.'

March 30, 2015 17:27
2 minute read.

IDF's 'operational internet.'. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)


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The IDF is in the process of setting up a closed, operational computer-based network, often called an intranet, complete with military applications that can be downloaded by users, engineers and programmers, the Lotem Unit told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Lotem, also known as C4i, is the Hebrew abbreviation for Telecommunications and Operational Information Technology.

Maj. Yossi Raido, head of the Jointness Engineering Department – a part of the Maof Engineering Unit – said the network became operational in 2014, but that it is moving up a gear now.

“It connects all military branches to one another.

It enables any user, whether an air force squadron or a Military Intelligence Unit, to access applications that will assist them in their missions,” he said.

Giving an example of the network in action, Raido said, “Let’s say the Operations Branch needs to work with the Ground Forces. Someone from the Operations Branch enters a home page, a portal, on the network. He then selects a military branch, and accesses a screen listing available systems.

He then starts accessing the information he needs in real time. If this is an active user, he can issue commands through the system.”

Raido said that in the future, he plans on integrating visual intelligence sensors with the network.

“We are not there yet. The system is still being formed,” he added.

As his title indicates, Raido is at the helm of the IDF’s push to create what the military calls “jointness” across the Air Force, Ground Forces, Navy and Military Intelligence.

“We have been working on this for a decade, commanding their command and controls,” he said. “We have their command headquarters linked up, down to the level of brigade command centers.”

The next stage is to make the network available to mobile platforms, such as fighter jets and tanks in motion.

“We understand we have to go move forward and make the data available at any time and place, in real time,” said Raido.

Capt. Rotem Bashi, chief programmer at Lotem’s Matzpen Software Unit, said the new technology is shaping the IDF’s operations.

“We felt this during Operation Protective Edge [in Gaza last summer],” he said. “We adapted applications during the course of combat. We saw how much C4i shapes the missions. It acts as a force multiplier.”

Bashi said the IDF is developing a “combat computing cloud,” which he described as a data center that will make available a variety of tools to units in the field.

“The operational intranet will ride on top of the combat cloud,” Bashi added.

Software developers in the Matzpen Unit have been intensively discussing new ideas in forums.

They recently held a two-day “hackathon” to come up with innovations, with the encouragement of their commanders.

They looked at ideas on how the military can exploit augmented reality solutions, a technology that is still in its infancy in the IDF, Bashi said.

Programmers looked at how the IDF can use the so-called Internet of Things, an area that is growing rapidly in the civilian private sector.

“We are at the initial stage of research and development in that field,” Bashi said.

One idea selected for potential further development involves connecting a heart rate monitor to a soldier, and linking up the monitor to a GPS transmitter. If a soldier ceases communications but continues to move and his heart rate speeds up, the technology would issue a kidnap alert.

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