The UAV threat to Israel’s security has become very real in recent years, as terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizbullah as well as the armies of neighboring Arab countries have gotten their hands on UAVs.
During Operation “Protective Edge”, three Hamas UAVs from Gaza and another one from Syria tried to infiltrate Israel.
“The main purpose of the Israeli Air Force is to protect Israeli airspace”, says Colonel Chami Bar’el, Commander of “Air Defense” Wing, during the iHLS UAV conference. “The UAV threat is growing stronger because of the difficulty of our enemies to deal with our air superiority”.
The UAVs pose several challenges to the IAF, one of the most important of which is the process of identification and classification. Due to the fact that the UAVs are relatively small-sized, they generate low radar cross-section, which makes it hard for the systems to detect them.
To deal with this problem, the IAF uses a large number of detection and identification systems, both radar-guided and optical. Additionally, the IAF relies on intelligence in order to attack UAVs before they even take off from enemy territory.
The growing threat
If a UAV manages to take off towards Israel before it is destroyed, the IAF tries to intercept it before it reaches the border, without breaching the airspace of the enemy territory. In order to do so, there are a variety of measures at the IAF’s disposal: from fighter-jets and combat helicopters to surface-to-air missile systems of the “Patriot” model, which have performed a number of interceptions in recent months.
“In each one of the cases, we made use of the weapon system that was available and most effective against the target in question”, explained Colonel Bar’el.Because of the relatively low cost of production, terrorist organizations around Israel have carried out many experiments to manufacture UAVs.
“This threat exists everywhere, 360 degrees around Israel and grows stronger during a conflict”, added Colonel Bar’el. “It grows stronger all the time and requires us to be flexible and to adapt ourselves to the technological changes and developments in the field of UAVs”.