navy speedboat 88 298idf.
(photo credit: Israel Navy)
The Navy has revealed it is deploying an unmanned speedboat equipped with a remote-controlled machine gun capable of being operated up to a range of 20 kilometers, reportedly the first of its kind in the world
Developed by Rafael, the nine-meter-long, rigid hull, inflatable vessel is being called the "Protector" and has been undergoing sea trials for a number of months. Navy officials said it has "already drawn blood" but declined to elaborate. They stressed that the unmanned boat was an "all-Israeli" assembly.
The Navy plans to deploy it for dull, dirty and dangerous tasks, such as monitoring the coast for suspected infiltrators. Palestinian terrorists have detonated themselves a number of times next to Navy patrol boats, and the Navy has long sought a safer way to approach suspicious sea craft at sea.
Developers also said the "Protector" could be used to ferry commandos, as well as contribute to anti-terrorist protection.
Each of the "Protectors" is equipped with at least four cameras, as well as a sonar or radar system and electro-optics capable of providing a three-dimensional image. The machine gun is a mini-Typhoon type, also developed by Rafael.
The Typhoon system allows the gun to stay on target as the unmanned surface vehicle (USV) bounces across the waves. Developers said the pilot of the vessel would be an officer (but not necessary a naval officer) who would go through a one-week training course. A second "mission module operator" would be responsible for its mission - be it surveillance or offensive.
At a recent demonstration, the sleek, stealthy boat was able to quickly maneuver around the harbor of a navy base while controlled by a civilian operator inside a control room. The vessel had a maximum speed of 50 knots. Rafael can also equip the USV with search lights and a public address system.
Israel has long been a world leader in unmanned aerial vehicles. Some, according to foreign reports, are equipped with offensive weapons used to target Palestinian terrorists. It also has begun deploying remote-controlled vehicles along the security fence in the West Bank.