IDF considering GPS for land-troops

Exclusive: Units can help prevent friendly fire deaths; army mulling special laser measurers for snipers.

Focus 224.88 (photo credit: ITL)
Focus 224.88
(photo credit: ITL)
In an effort to assist commanders in obtaining a clearer picture of their battlefield, the IDF is considering equipping combat solders with small GPS indicators that would transmit a signal revealing their locations at all times. One of the companies the IDF has approached regarding this technology is Petah Tikva-based ITL Optronics Ltd., a company which specializes in laser and electro-optic equipment for the Infantry Corps. Several militaries which are members of NATO have already equipped their soldiers with the GPS indicator. The indicator, a small device that clips onto an operator's vest, gives off a signal on a secure satellite frequency that transmits the position of the soldier to a commander's screen. The device would also assist the IAF in preventing friendly-fire incidents when operating inside urban areas in conjunction with ground forces. "One of the main problems a commander has when in the field is that he doesn't know where his troops are at all times," a senior officer involved in coordinating between air and ground forces told The Jerusalem Post. "With this indicator, commanders and pilots would know that the building they are about to bomb is clear of fellow IDF troops." Another system that ITL is developing under orders from the Defense Ministry's Research and Development Authority (MAFAT) is a special laser system that would assist snipers in hitting their targets on their first shot. ITL has a number of systems already in IDF use, such as the MARS scope for most combat operators as well as the Cobra target-acquisition system for infantry units. "When shooting from over 1,000 meters it is very difficult to hit the target on the first shot, due to changes in the wind," explained Eli Venezia, president of ITL. "With the laser the snipers will get all the information they need on the wind before they shoot and stand a better chance of hitting their target on the first shot." The system, called Focus, shoots a laser at the target which is instantly beamed back, containing all the necessary information on the distance of the target, the degree and angle as well as the wind factor. Using the same laser technology and also in conjunction with MAFAT, ITL is developing a laser system to detect explosive devices, like the roadside bombs planted next to the Gaza Strip border fence by Palestinian terrorists. The laser would scan the fence and detect - from a distance of several hundred meters - if there is an explosive device nearby.