The Israeli air force is using its Gulfstream G550-based Eitam airborne early warning aircraft with an added sensor to detect unmanned air vehicles attempting to enter the nation’s airspace.
Speaking to FlightGlobal, the mission planning officer of the service's “Nachshon” squadron – identified only as Capt I – said that while the hardware of the aircraft’s airborne radar is original, installed when it was prepared for the AEW role by Israel Aerospace Industries’ Elta Systems subsidiary, new software blocks have been installed.
“We have the capability to create a full aerial picture, even in areas that are beyond the capability of any ground-based radar,” Capt I says. “With an endurance of over 8h and an altitude of 42,000ft, we supply the air force command and other squadrons with a real-time aerial picture that is the basis for the complicated missions it is required to perform."
The Eitam platform is equipped with an EL/W-2085 multi-sensor suite with four L- and S-band radars, communications and electronic support measures, communications and electronic intelligence capabilities and identification friend-or-foe systems. These are used to automatically search for and identify specific targets, with up to 360° coverage and a special mode employed to detect manoeuvring and high-value targets.
Over the past several years, a number of UAVs operated by militants from inside the Gaza Strip and Lebanon have attempted to enter Israeli airspace. During such incidents the Israeli air force has detected and intercepted the potential threats using fighters or surface-to-air missiles.