After investing millions of shekels in upgrading and refilling stockpiles depleted during Operation Protective Edge three years ago, the IDF is prepared for any war, a senior officer in the Logistics and Technology Directorate stated on Thursday.
“The army is in a completely different place than it was in 2014,” he said at a briefing with reporters in central Israel, adding, “If a war breaks out on both the northern and Gaza borders, the IDF is ready.”
As part of the five-year Gideon Plan, the military has invested millions of shekels in building up supplies for combat operations, including ammunition, fuel, food, replacement parts and training schools, the senior officer said. The army has also invested a significant sum into upgrading its tactical truck fleet, which is nearly 60 years old.
The IDF on Thursday held a demonstration of the new armored fighting vehicle, the Eitan – which is set to enter operational use for infantry battalions in the coming year – as well as of an autonomous Humvee.
The Humvee is equipped with a camera that transmits visual data to the operator who can remotely drive the vehicle from a distance of up to 3 kilometers away. This range is expected to increase and a test on the vehicle, along with the Oshkosh Corporation transport trucks that will have the operator systems installed on them, will take place in September.
The Eitan, which is less fortified than the Namer armored personnel vehicle, the most heavily armored vehicle in the world, can carry 12 soldiers – including a commander, gunner and driver – and has touch-screen systems offering a 360-degree view of the battlefield.
Equipped with advanced defense systems, such as the Trophy active protection system and hi-tech armor designed to protect against rocket-propelled vehicles and anti-tank missiles, the Eitan also comes equipped with an FN MAG 7.62 mm general- purpose machine gun, a .50 caliber heavy machine gun, a 30 mm cannon with a range of 2,500 meters and a missile launcher that can be operated without the crew members leaving the vehicle and exposing themselves to the enemy.
The IDF has also invested in advanced transport trucks that “can move gear and transport vehicles like never before,” the senior officer said, adding the trucks can each carry more than 80 tons of equipment.
“We are buying what we need and we are buying the right things,” he said, giving the example of purchasing more shells instead of new tanks.
The Defense Ministry in January signed a significant multiyear purchase agreement with IMI Systems (formerly Israel Military Industries) to purchase NIS 1.75 billion of ammunition systems that will allow the IDF to completely restock supplies that were severely depleted during the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in 2014.
As part of the Gideon Plan, the agreement will also provide ground units with various types of ammunition as well as support the IDF training program for the next 10 years.
The uniforms and gear of combat soldiers have also been upgraded at a significant cost in order to make it easier for infantry soldiers to operate on the battlefield.
The new uniforms, which are lightweight and more durable in harsh terrain, will be issued to combat soldiers for operational missions and not for training or routine operations. Infantry soldiers will also be equipped with new modern tactical vests with an attachable backpack, a helmet that gives better protection and has a shape-camouflaging helmet cover, knee guards that bend according to the movement of the soldier, as well a headlamp designed for urban and tunnel warfare.
While he is proud of all the technological advancements, the senior officer said what most worries him is the healthcare of the soldiers, as he is not satisfied with parts of the military’s medical system.
The army has trouble recruiting doctors, he said, citing as an illustration of this problem the fact that the IDF is currently without a chief neurologist.
“This worry keeps me up at night. We are good at providing emergency and life-saving medicine to our troops in the field, but there is still much more that has to be done and improved for non-urgent medical care,” he said.