The combination is a winning one. You take an unmanned air platform and put on it a sensor, a very advanced one. The result – a tool for the battle arena that can save many lives.
This effort has already produced some very interesting combinations, but Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has only unveiled one so far. This is not because the company is against boasting about its successful programmes, but because the initial client, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), is against.
Recently, IAI has admitted for the first time that it is developing passive sensors that allow aerial platforms to locate the source of hostile ground fire.
The company has partially unveiled the OTHELLO – the Optical Hostile Fire Source Locator.
The OTHELLO, developed by the ELTA division of IAI, is a passive optical fire locator that detects and precisely locates the sources of hostile fire (anti-tank guided missiles, RPG, cannon fire and gunfire) on the battlefield.
The system automatically transfers the data to weapons systems that can take out the threat.
Ground fire has become a major threat to slow low-flying aircraft, mainly helicopters.
The Israeli company has not released details on the versions that are tailored for aircraft.
But knowing the way the Israeli defence industries work, there is no doubt that this is only the very small tip of the iceberg.
The fast suppression of ground fire aimed at helicopters became an operational requirement during the Second Lebanon War.
Sources say that all the lessons from that war were implemented in the new systems.