The dedicated electro optical payloads developed in Israel for use on unmanned air systems (UAS) have made these aerial platforms "part of the team". Each player in that team is a very important complementary source for real time data that is needed to create the "big picture" especially crucial in low intensity wars.
Paradox: in low intensity wars the "big picture" is needed to minimize collateral damage to non-combatants. The people who squeeze the trigger need to understand who is who in a very crowded area, and that requires to see a wide angle picture built by more than one sensor.
Realizing that, the Israeli airforce (IAF) has intensified the training of its combat pilots in working with UAS as real time intelligence sensors.
A senior IAF source recently confirmed that the pilots are being trained to use the intelligence raw data received from UAS payloads. "This is a very crucial tool for a fighter pilot when flying a mission where many of the parameters are quickly changing," the source says.
The source says that the current fighter fleet has almost reached the line where the pilots will have difficulties in receiving more data on their cockpit screens. "One of the main reasons why we want the F-35 so much is the ability of this aircraft to perform real time data fusion. This is the only way to use all the data especially in our region, where reaction time in most cases is very short," the source says.
So the electro optical payloads on the Israeli UAS are getting more capable and they have been designed to work in full harmony with the systems embedded on the IAF manned platforms. Like any other data combining mission, this one is not simple but efforts show results and the UAS are getting more important.
It sounds very trendy when the UAS are getting almost the same status as their manned "counterparts", but this harmony in the skies is not simple. The use of UAS in the same piece of sky over the combat zone is a tricky job and the IAF is allocating a lot of effort to build the needed "laws" and the necessary training.