With hostile, weaponized drones bringing a whole new assortment of security threats to the forefront, a new system developed by an Israeli company to take out drones and incendiary balloons has been deployed along the Gaza border by the IDF.
The SMASH 2000 fire control system was developed by Smart Shooter, which has been using innovative technologies to help militaries and other security or law enforcement agencies accurately neutralize moving targets.
“Since drones have become a very serious threat all over the world, we began to think of how we could use the system against drones,” Dr. Abraham Mazor, the company’s VP of Business Development & Marketing, told The Jerusalem Post at the 10th annual ISDEF exhibition in Tel Aviv.
“If you are capable of hitting moving targets, we don’t care if the target is on the ground – such as terrorists in the terminal [or] terrorists on the battlefield – or a drone in the sky,” said Mazor. “We have to adapt the algorithm and a few other things, but basically we are facing the same challenge: how to hit moving targets.”
Run by former employees of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the combination of simple hardware and advanced image-processing software can effectively turn every soldier with basic weapons into a sharpshooter, with the first round out of every rifle hitting its target.
“Smart Shooter’s Fire Control solutions are designed to give soldiers and law enforcement officers a decisive tactical edge in almost every operational scenario, maximizing force lethality and effectiveness throughout an engagement,” the company said, adding that “repurposed and occasionally armed civilian drones have become common, turning the concept of unmanned warfare back on national forces.”
The SMASH 2000 gives troops a precision anti-drone system on their weapon with built-in targeting algorithms that can track and hit high-speed drones flying at ranges of up to 120 meters with the first shot.
With the system, the user selects and locks onto the target. As soon as the trigger is squeezed, the system calculates the target’s movement and predicts its next location using advanced image processing and algorithms. SMASH 2000 prevents the bullet from being fired until the target is precisely in its cross hairs.
“In exactly the same way it locks on a target on the ground, it locks on a target in the air,” a representative from the company told the Post.
Hezbollah and Hamas have sent dozens of drones into Israel, and are said to have been working on upgrading the group’s UAVs for use in both offensive operations and intelligence gathering.
Larger, more advanced drones that have infiltrated Israel from the northern border are usually taken out by Patriot missile batteries. But at $3 million per missile, the Patriot is an expensive way to down a device launched from Gaza that can be worth $200.
While the drones and other incendiary aerial devices are cheap and usually toys that can be bought on the civilian market, they are fast and remain a challenge even for skilled sharpshooters.
In the last round of violence between Israel and terror groups in the Strip, the IDF said that there were multiple attempts to attack troops stationed along the border using drones. In one attempt, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed that one of its drones dropped an explosive device in the vicinity of an IDF tank.
A video shows a drone dropping an IED above a tank deployed close to the border after it spots IDF troops approaching. The device exploded near the tank, but did not cause any injuries to nearby troops.
But more simple devices – like kites, balloons and condoms carrying Molotov cocktails or improvised explosive devices – have posed a major problem for Israel since the beginning of the “March of Return” protests along the Gaza border fence a year ago.
The devices have caused over 2,000 separate fires resulting in over 35,000 dunams (8,500 acres) being burned. According to the IDF, this has included over 13,000 dunams (3,200 acres) of nature reserves, and over 11,000 dunams (2,700 acres) of forestry.
According to Mazor, the system has been in use by the IDF for several months along the Gaza border, taking out drones and incendiary balloons launched from the blockaded coastal enclave.
“There is a lot of interest around this product because of the drone threat and the balloons from Gaza,” he said, adding that the main customer of the system is the US Special Forces, and that the company is preparing to work with Europeans and other countries.
“We are there, we have been trying the system, they have been trying the system, and they are very happy with it – and results are very successful so far,” Mazor said.