Israel’s high technology expertise in the military armament fields is once again on display at this year’s 48’th Paris Air Show. This year, the main attractions appear to be the IAF’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s for short). UAV’s are being used more and more on both combat and reconnaissance missions as they can be controlled effectively from a base far away from where the mission is actually taking place, and without endangering pilots’ lives. Three of the more prominent exhibitors include Elbit Systems, Rafael, and Urban Aeronautics, who are showing off their new creations at the IAF’s new exhibition pavilion, which cost more than $ 1,500,000 to construct.
Something completely new this year is the unmanned rescue MULE, which has been designed to rescue wounded combat troops in battle zones. The MULE can carry approximately 317 kilograms over an 80-kilometer radius, at a top speed expected to be in the range of 100 knots, with a maximum operating altitude of 3,660 meters. It is also a vertical takeoff vehicle, enabling it to take off and land from a limited space.
Another unusual UAV is one called the Picador, which is an unmanned helicopter capable of carrying a 180 kg payload at a distance range of 200 kilometers. This craft can be used by both land and naval forces and can have armament mounted on it such as air to surface missiles, as well as surveillance equipment. The Picador is being offered by Aeronautics Defense Systems.
Other noteworthy items on display this year include the HAROP drone aircraft which can be used as a “kamikaze” aircraft to destroy enemy installations by hovering over them and then diving to crash into them while exploding a munitions payload. A relatively inexpensive UAV, the HAROP can be launched from various platforms and is designed to be especially effective in destroying enemy missile launching sites, such as those the Hezbollah has in southern Lebanon. It is also said to be an excellent weapon against enemy air defense systems. IAF spokesmen noted that the IAF has entered into a contract to supply these drones to the Indian Air Force.
Not featured at the show is a new missile interception device known as the “Iron Fist” which can be mounted on ground armored personnel carriers and will be used to intercept incoming missiles by means of a radar and passive optical system that detects incoming threats and destroys them within a fraction of a second using a combustible blast interceptor.
Israel learned a lot in the 2006 war with Hezbollah and this gained knowledge is being used to construct various new weapons systems and other equipment as noted. Using the old phrase of “necessity is the mother of invention” the IAF is continually upgrading is weaponry and developing new systems to maintain it’s qualitative edge over Israel’s adversaries.