Israel's military avatar: Robots on the battlefield, II

Published 29 December 2009

With self-detonating grenades, thinking bullets and robot warriors, humans on the frontline could soon be a thing of the past; Israel’s military industries develop robotic systems to aid soldiers in the field, but also to ward off threats from afar

Even without any miniaturization, Israel possesses unique technologies that can upgrade future satellites. Elbit Systems is working on an advanced optical system that will be able to transmit multicolored pictures and that will be able to function at night. In addition, IAI radar will improve the resolution of the pictures. Today, satellite pictures can be found on the open market with a resolution of 70 centimeters.

Israel already has technologies for satellite photography at higher resolutions, and they are expected to yet improve. The achievements of Israeli space technologies are reflected in both the MSAR (mini-synthetic aperture radar) project of the U.S. space agency NASA and the French Venus project. “MSAR is a mission undertaken by NASA in order to map the surface of the planet Venus, to see if it will be possible to land there in the future,” explains Isaac Ben-Israel, chairman of the Israel Space Agency.

Venus is surrounded by clouds of toxic gases and the project requires synthetic aperture radar which can take photographs through fog, dust and darkness. There are seven countries capable of developing synthetic aperture radar systems and one of them is Israel, through ELTA, a subsidiary of IAI. Israel’s miniaturization capabilities were also helpful in this project.

Haaretz’s Ora Cohen writes that American satellite radar weighs four tons, and the Venus satellite has to be relatively light, so NASA put out a tender for bids that was won by IAI over aeronautical giants like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

NASA is now weighing whether to launch satellites to Venus or Mars or other planets, as it can not afford to do them all simultaneously.

If the mission to Venus is the one that is budgeted, in five years we’ll be seeing the first photographs of that planet from a satellite which will apparently be constructed entirely in Israel, because of our unique miniaturization abilities,” says Ben-Israel, adding that the Northrop Grumman will be the marketer of the project.

What will the next war look like? Will it be waged on land, tank against tank, like previous wars? Will it be waged against terrorist organizations? Or against the threat of long, medium and short-range missiles?

From the point of view of Elbit Systems, life is complex and a response must be found for Iran, for terrorists in Gaza and also for Syria,” says Haim Rousso, vice president for technological and engineering excellence at Elbit. “Intelligence will always be necessary, in