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Dronology of the small war – Israel implements soft power policy through drones

PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – The State of Israel celebrated its 72nd birthday and paid tribute to the 23,816 soldiers and 3,153 civilians who died in the terrorist attacks who fell in several wars for independence. A small, even tiny in size, the country was able to withstand the confrontation with neighboring Arab countries thanks to its high morale and a powerful, well-armed army.

The army has always been and remains for the Israelis at the highest place in the ranking of state institutions. The government pays special attention to the army; they do not spare funds to equip it with the latest types of weapons. With a relatively small regular army, Israel focuses on quality superiority over a potential enemy, seeing this as a guarantee of victory.

Naturally, the daily training and activities of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are hidden under a veil of secrecy. Nevertheless, due to the turbulent situation in the Middle East, to put it mildly, one can see or anticipate the emergence of new weapons and technologies on the stage of the theater of military operations of the future. Actually, the future has already arrived.

Kamikaze drones, targeting drones, reconnaissance drones, assassin drones, spy drones are innumerable to these inventions of the inquisitive human mind. Drones are used both in combat operations and to control the daily life of civilians. The drones are hard workers, they become indispensable helpers of man, a brand of scientific and technological progress. Nevertheless, drones continue to attract the most attention in their main guise – as an unmanned strike carrier of weapons and an illegal scout.

One of the states at the forefront in the development of new technological solutions and the practical use of drones for both defense and attack, without a doubt, can be called Israel. And therefore, his experience is important as a guide for conducting active hostilities in modern conditions, without resorting to classical war as such.

One of the latest Israeli attack on a car on the Syrian-Lebanese border is a vivid example of the practical application of the “doctrine of containment” – to target the militants of the Hezbollah organization, which is classified as terrorist by Israel, the United States and some European countries. It is known that the border between the two named states was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is probably why the mission, disguised as a civilian vehicle, attracted the attention of the Israeli military.

Israel, as usual, does not comment on incidents of this kind, from time to time occurring on the other side of its borders, although the direction of the main strike is transparent: to damage Iranian interests, prevent pro-Iranian Shiite formations from gaining a foothold near its borders, and prevent the creation of objects in neighboring states carrying strategic threat to the country.

Israel has adhered to the line of behavior “defense by attack” for many years, which allows it to maintain the balance of power in the Middle East in its favor and prevent small skirmishes from escalating into a regional conflict with unpredictable consequences. Pre-emptive attacks using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are part of Israel’s strategy in Lebanon and Syria: containment tactics through imminent retaliation. At the same time, this is the accumulation of combat experience and a demonstration of the strength of the IDF.

Another example. On April 12, Israeli planes fired eight rockets at targets near the Lebanese city of Shebaa. Before that, the observers noted the activity of the UAV over Beirut and its southern suburbs. Israel’s reconnaissance missions in Lebanon, relying, among other things, on local sources of information (collaborators) and on drone raids, make it possible to identify the enemy’s resources and his weak points that can be used in a future conflict, the inevitability of which has been repeatedly expressed by the IDF command.

Israel has marked two red lines, the intersection of which it pledged to prevent in any case: the production and deployment of precision weapons in Lebanon and pro-Iranian military infrastructure in any form and quality in Syria.

The most talked about drone attack took place last August, when an Israeli drone crashed in the southern suburb of Beirut – Dahiye, a stronghold of Hezbollah. Around the same hour, a second drone exploded there, which fell near the Hezbollah media center, causing material damage. What for? Why? There was a lot of speculation on this score, but the discussion in the media did not add clarity.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that drones are capable of causing serious damage to Hezbollah facilities. Many commentators are inclined to view the Israeli drone attacks as a means of psychological pressure on Hezbollah and, through it, on the IRGC leadership behind it. Be that as it may, drones are effective and, it is important to emphasize, a cheap, non-contact option to intimidate the enemy without risking the fire of a big war.

That’s right, but the question may arise: the enemy is not using bast either? Therefore, Israeli firms are developing technologies to intercept enemy drones to prevent attacks and collect information about foreign-made unmanned aerial vehicles. The essence of the idea is simple: the operator receives full controlrole over an enemy drone, and then lands it for subsequent identification and analysis of the design features and combat capabilities of the vehicle.

“The system we have developed can detect enemy drones at ranges of up to 3.5 kilometers and simultaneously monitor about 200 drones,” says Asaf Leibovitz, manager of antidron technology development company Skylock. As its advertising brochure says: “As drones become faster, smaller, cheaper and more deadly, with the potential to increase payloads to several tons, countermeasures have become necessary to counter threats. The Skylock team understands that drone technology is constantly evolving, creating new and more significant challenges such as swarm attacks using pre-programmed drones. In response to the growing demand for countermeasures, Skylock has developed a flexible, multi-layered anti-drone solution that meets the tactical requirements of the customer, protecting anything from airports and critical infrastructure to government headquarters. ”

The report was quoted by the Israeli media a few days after a series of drone attacks in neighboring Arab countries, in which Israel was accused. The Israel Defense Forces, as before, declined to comment. According to Skylock, during testing, the program developed by the company demonstrated the ability to break the connection between the drone and an external operator, in order to then intercept the remote control and land it in a given area for neutralization, verification and analysis.

The media reported that other Israeli companies are engaged in similar projects. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, one of the four leading arms exporters, presented its Drone Dome development: an anti-drone similarly takes control of potentially dangerous armed enemy drones and lands them.

The same company Rafael in December last year announced the use of a laser to fire at unidentified drones in the airspace of the country at a distance of several kilometers. Prior to this, a laser cannon was tested in southern Israel, and the system has already entered combat duty, having entered the country’s multi-level air defense system along with the anti-missile systems “David’s Sling”, “Arrow” and in integration with the “Iron Dome”

The Rafael laser target interception system entered the arms market two years after it began receiving the tactical and technical assignment of the Ministry of Defense. Among its advantages: it can be used to intercept mortar shells, rockets of the Kasam and Grad type with a range of up to 40 kilometers, anti-tank missiles (including modern ones, such as the Kornet) and small UAVs.

The well-known events with the attack by a squadron of drones of unknown origin (presumably of Iranian origin) on the Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia in September last year once again prove the importance and relevance of the emergence of laser interception systems such as Drone Dome, increasing the efficiency and expanding the operational capabilities of the army in the present or future field combat, including identification, neutralization and interception of drones controlled by the enemy.

To this we can add that the basic technology of these weapons is available and cheap: this is confirmed by the successful attacks of Yemeni Houthi militants on military bases in Saudi Arabia, causing significant material damage.

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