Search, locate and destroy the rocket launchers – the crucial role of UAS

Unmanned air systems (UAS) operated by the Israeli defense forces (IDF) are playing a major role in the effort to locate and destroy rocket launchers in Gaza.

The name of the game in this operation is shorten the sensor to shooter time. When rockets are launched there are only a few seconds to hit the operators – and if the launch is made by remote control, only an immediate attack will stop the same launcher from being operated again.

Since the IDF began operation Protective Edge, the Sky Rider UAS operated by the ground forces, especially artillery units, is performing this task.

But these small UAS, which are launched by hand, are only part of a massive UAS operation.

The larger Heron-1 and Hermes-450 are flying around the clock to supply real-time intelligence to ground forces.

“Every time ground forces manoeuvre, they are accompanied by at least one UAV that combs the territory where they are maneuvering and alerts them to any threats it identifies, from a suspicious house, to shooting, to a group of unidentified people or anything else that might pose a threat,” says Maj Omer, deputy commander of the First UAV squadron, which operates the Heron 1 UAS. “If the need arises to attack an identified target, the soldiers of the squadron will direct the ground forces or an IAF aircraft to the target, depending on the type of target,” he told the IAF website.

Another very important task of the UAS that operate over Gaza is to avoid “friendly fire”. Such incidents are common especially when the fighting is in such densely populated areas.

 ”We try to work in an organised fashion in order to differentiate our forces from the enemy”, says Maj Omer. “This is also essential for us so that we will be able to explain to the ground forces who is actually standing in front of them, and also to avoid airstrikes on IDF forces.”

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