This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
In recent years we are experiencing a change in the way armies do battle around the globe: there are no more tanks-on-tanks clashes and no more dogfights, but a mostly micro-tactic centered, urban and close quarters warfare. Because of that change, vast resources are invested in preserving infantry forces and upgrading each army’s infantry warfare level. One of those new upgrades are new robots, used for missions such as reconnaissance, threat marking, bomb defusing and even neutralizing enemies.
Such robot has recently entered IDF’s Commando Brigade. After half a year in service, the RONI (Hebrew acronyms for Portable Mission Robot) has started its first trial by fire in IDF’s infantry units.
Until recently, robots in the IDF were deployed only by the YAHALOM (Hebrew for Diamond) special forces combat engineering unit. The new robot will make its way to YAHALOM, but also to IDF’s Commando infantry brigade (a newly formed brigade, which consists of four of IDF’s special forces units) and to the reconnaissance companies in four of the infantry brigades. The small robot, that weighs just 15 kilograms and takes only two infantrymen to control and carry, will also be integrated in all other infantry forces shortly. According to ynet.co.il, it is decided that the soldiers that will receive these robot will not be the ones on basic training, but rather the soldiers that are serving in the more experienced companies.
The robot is mobile even on harsh, rocky and boulders filled terrain, and in urban terrain with its bumps and stairs. It has a set of advanced cameras, with thermal vision and a starlight intensifier. In pitch dark conditions, like those in the inside of a terror tunnel, the robot uses infrared lights to navigate its way. Those sensors can transmit image to a distance of up to dozens of meters, even when the robot is underground.
The robot also has special sensors and a laser indicator, in order to identify and mark enemy weapons and IEDs that are hidden in room corners or the insides of a tunnel. The robot’s first operational experience, that according to the IDF was a success, was carried out in recent weeks in Judea and Samaria and in the Gaza strip border.
“The enemy can emerge from anywhere and from any building, even from those that were previously searched by our soldiers”, explained an IDF Ground Arm officer, “that’s why after operation Protective Edge we have identified the need to integrate robots to forces that will be fighting in urban areas and in the terror tunnels”. Each infantry company will receive two robots, that will be used in reconnaissance missions in dangerous areas.
Since operation Protective Edge, IDF has procured hundreds of millions of Shekels worth of weapons and equipment, to be used in all of IDF’s units that will be dealing with the tunnels threat. This equipment includes micro-radios that are operational in tunnels, handguns and new, simple means to thwart or neutralise tunnels.
This investment seems to be paying off already, as the IDF keeps uncovering a growing number of border-crossing tunnels, the latest one uncovered just last week.