sniper rifle 224 88.
(photo credit: Yaakov Katz)
Before each mission, James Bond went to his headquarters in London and paid a visit to "Q" - the comical head of the secret service's research and development department, who would present and demonstrate the latest top-secret gadgets.
While the IDF doesn't have a "Q" it does have the Yiftah Unit, a top-secret branch of the Ground Forces Command which opened its doors to the press on Thursday for a rare glimpse at its work in honor of its 50th anniversary.
Yiftah, which is located in a small section of the Zrifin Base near Ramle, was established in 1958 by Brig.-Gen. David Laskov and has over the years become a leading weapons inventor.
Its expertise is in the field of explosives but it has also helped all of the IDF's special forces - from units like the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit to Sayeret Givati - by coming up with specially-designed solutions for complex missions.
One such case was three years ago when, before a mission in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, Sayeret Givati commanders realized that they didn't have a way of positioning snipers in the battle zone without making them vulnerable to enemy forces.
"They came to us and asked for sniper rifle that could be mounted on a vehicle and be operated by remote control," Yiftah commander Lt.-Col. Yoel recalled Thursday.
A month later Yoel and his team of scientists and engineers had created a remote-control sniper rifle that could be mounted on an armored personnel carrier and raised up to eight meters while being controlled from within the APC.
"Our goal is to recognize gaps between a unit's needs and their operational requirements." Lt.-Col. Yoel explained. "We identify the gap and work to close it as quickly as possible."
Another of the unit's inventions is a mounted camera system developed during the Second Lebanon War for elite reconnaissance units such as Egoz. The idea was to mount a thermal camera on top of a tripod-like stand and be able to position it undetected deep behind enemy lines. The soldiers can then withdraw several hundred meters and operate the device by remote control.
Another system was tailored for elite units operating in urban terrain, like Palestinian towns in the West Bank. In this case, the unit used a simple camera and mounted it on a robot which, via a wireless signal, transferred images to a soldier who carried a palm-size screen attached to his standard military vest.
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