The line between UAS and anti-rocket systems

The process is identical. When Israel began operating unmanned air systems (UAS) in the early 80s, many armed forces, especially air forces, looked at these small remotely controlled platforms with hidden or quite open scepticism.

Thirty years later, Israel is a leading UAS developer and manufacturer, selling its products to countries around the globe including superpowers like the US and Russia.

The same process is happening with introducing multi-layered anti-rocket/anti-ballistic systems into service. What looks like an Israeli problem that is being dealt with very advanced technology will, without doubt, in no time become an operational requirement for many countries.

Thinking outside the box resulted in the many unique designs of UAS made in Israel, those which are offered for export and those that will not be on that list for many years to  come.

The impressive intercepts of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip by the Iron Dome, shortly after it was fielded, is proof that there are ways to deal with the rocket threat.

Iron Dome, made by Rafael, is a mobile defence system aimed at intercepting short-range rockets and artillery shells.

No-one will be surprised if the US is a potential client. Rockets take their toll in Afghanistan and all the improvising, such as evolving cannons adapted from shipborne versions, have not proved their efficiency.

Foreign press claims that Singapore has already purchased some Iron Dome systems and that it has a requirement for the David Sling system developed jointly by Rafael and Raytheon.

Remember the UAS? Almost every country wants those systems now. Many of these countries realise or are on the way to realising that rockets are a threat because of their relatively low price, their proliferation and the “statistical” chaos they create in large areas.

Back to what will happen in the not-too-distant future. Countries will understand the threat posed by rockets in the hands of armies or terrorists. They will develop defence systems or purchase such systems that are in the market.

The UAS that are in service with many armed forces in the world show that the technology in many cases creates the market. This is exactly what will happen with anti-rocket systems.

As one senior Israeli official said: “Think out of the box or you will find yourself in one.” That sentence can be understood in different ways. All of these mean the same.

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