Israel Matches Spending To New Technologies
David A. Fulghum
12:45 PM on Aug 06, 2010
The speed with which Israel’s administration can respond to new threats and the changing definitions of war and victory is triggering new concerns.
“There are major challenges facing Israel that not all of us understand fully,” says Dan Meridor, deputy prime minister and minister of intelligence and atomic energy. “The [threats] are changing in a big way. The answer is not necessarily another armored brigade or another squadron of F-16s. Change calls for investing in innovation, thinking, resources and planning while redefining war, success and the battlefield.”
Moreover, war is a very sophisticated environment that is steadily becoming more complex.
For example, “The demand for Israeli UAVs is impressive,” Meridor says. “It’s a dramatic revolution. You can conduct a variety of missions from safety and without having to risk the lives of aircrews.”
Yet, other Israeli officials believe that for the last 10-15 years, aircraft and unmanned aircraft have been focused too much on the tactical level. No one in Israel will talk about armed UAVs, but there is video shot during the 2006 Lebanon War that shows Israeli unmanned aircraft shooting small, anti-tank-type weapons. There is a growing need, they believe, to put 250-lb. or greater, high precision bombs on UAVs to allow better operational tradeoffs among aircraft, UAVs and attack helicopters.
UAVs may eventually play a surveillance and detection role in an invigorated missile defense system.
“You must be able to find, locate and intercept missiles in 10-12 seconds,” say Matan Vilnai, deputy defense minister and former deputy chief of staff for the Israeli army. “It’s very complicated and we’re going to invest a lot of money in improving our interception capability of aircraft, UAVs and missiles. The Arrow [interceptor missile] and the intelligence we get from our new satellites is an important part of that.”
Unmanned aircraft and satellites have an undisputed advantage in gathering intelligence undetected.
“Space is more and more an area of interest,” agrees Air Force Lt. Gen. Dani Halutz (ret), former chief of the Israel Defense Force. “Israel has a presence in space that is impressive for its size.”
He points to Israel’s geographic limitations as a long term advantage. Because Israel has to launch its spacecraft against the direction of Earth’s rotation to avoid dropping boosters onto foreign soil, engineers and planners have had to innovate.
“It has pushed us to develop sophisticated solutions with smaller satellites and higher quality payloads,” Halutz says. Success in a series of launches “completes another step forward in resolution and coverage for our ISR portfolio. We need to be able to replace [our reconnaissance] satellites on a constant basis [and on short notice]. It is a bridge over distances and it provides us with remote agents.”
Cyber-war, high-power microwaves and network invasion are additional areas of keen Israeli interest.
“Selected antennas supporting [enemy] military capabilities should be targets for us,” Halutz says. “Command and control systems are high on the list. Whether you call it cyber- or network operations, it means soft kills of systems.”
That statement reflects the fact that cyber-operations are basically under the aegis of the military.
“A small number of the people involved are civilians, but it is part of the IDF,” Vilnai says. “It’s also part Air Force and part intelligence. As with everywhere else in the world, [cyber-operations] are taking their first steps. We’re trying to understand it and do whatever we can with it.
The cyber-world is another new battlefield and a new reality,” Meridor says. “I’m interested in it, discussing it and learning about it. Innovation is not only in the technology. It is in the user. My children live in the cyber-world, but I’m not there as much as they are. Small groups sitting in basements in Paris, Oslo, Riyadh or New York can wage war and it will be very hard to find even a trace. It’s not just states, but individuals that can use this capability.”
Others are more circumspect about Israel’s cyber-capabilities.
“I can’t talk about possible measures that may or may not exist [such as cyber-invasion and electronic attack], but they by themselves, even if we do have them, aren’t enough to guarantee success,” says another retired senior IDF officer. “It will have to be a careful approach because the outcome [of the technology’s use] is uncertain. That strategy has an impact, particularly if it fails.”
Taking advantage of the new technologies will also call for investing in organizational and networking changes.
“We have to develop a mechanism that allows us to effectively integrate intelligence from five sources – visual, signals, communications and human intelligence and open sources,” the official says. “It is not enough to be passive. If you conduct a very thorough and professional investigation of the internet, you can get enormous amounts of information.”
That information opens the door to exploiting a foe’s use of the cyber-world.
“You can be much more proactive [in information gathering], join certain groups and get unbelievable [intelligence],” he says.
However, the capability comes with a caveat.
“You cannot operate in an environment where each intelligence agency has its own information and shares it only when it wants to,” the veteran analyst says. “You need a computer network that lets you combine everything into one picture. You can’t operate agencies in parallel.”
Halutz also places emphasis on reorganization, data fusion and improved dissemination of intelligence.
“We need force structure than can support production of targets at the GPS-coordinates level with real-time deployment of the right information to the right places,” he says. “You also need a system that can fuse information from different disciplines. We need a better common language between the land, air and sea forces. And we have to use the relevant tools and formations to achieve the mission with the highest accuracy, the least collateral damage in the shortest time with the minimum amount of weapons.”
Senior Israeli officials also have widely embraced the conclusion that large rockets threatening Israel will soon have GPS navigation guidance. Moreover, they contend that increasing missile ranges now threaten all the country’s important strategic infrastructure, increasing the sense of urgency to field additional missile defenses.
“I would create special protection for [the most important strategic sites] rather than try to protect the whole state of Israel, which is the policy today,” says Army Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland (ret.) who is former head of the national security council. “There are tens of targets that need to be protected, and there is an advanced system that gives almost a 100% guarantee to any facility that it protects that I can’t talk about.”
Eiland is likely referring to one of two new systems. “Iron Dome” is a new lower-level system to defend against short-range ballistic missiles and long-range rockets. “David’s Sling” is an associated medium-altitude system that protects sites from medium-range ballistic missiles. They are tied into a comprehensive air and missile defense system that includes Arrow 2, the soon-to-be-deployed Arrow 3 and advanced versions of the Patriot missile that creates a defensive shield from ground level into the exoatmosphere.
“I would develop long-range, ground-to-ground missiles so that we don’t have to be fully dependent on the air force if air bases are targeted,” Eiland says. “I would increase the number of submarines for many reasons.”
Israel’s submarines now carry high-precision, long-range cruise missiles.
“About 90% of the defense budget will be spent on the usual things,” Meridor says. “We aren’t going to send the army home. But the 10% that we can change more freely, we should think anew.”
ar99, Israel, UAV, Cyber