The Defense Ministry published a “call” to defense industries to draft proposals for developing precision-strike combat support weapons for infantry forces at the battalion and brigade level.
The request comes from a need that the IDF spelled out – development ASAP of a missile or rocket suited for fighting in an urban environment. In other words, the IDF needs an absolutely accurate weapon (to within one meter of the target) at ranges up to fifteen kilometers, in order to avoid collateral damage.
The need for such a weapon became acute after Operation “Cast Lead” (January 2009). Precision missiles or rockets must be capable of hitting a target, like a specific room in a building, from a great distance, even without “visual contact”. A weapon of this kind will be an alternative for missions that only aircraft can accomplish today. According to IDF operational needs, the time from launch to target contact has to be very short.
Since the “call” was announced, a number of Israeli defense industries have been examining the feasibility of developing such weapons according to IDF specifications. Currently, several prototypes are in various stages of development that could fit the bill.
For example, Rafael is developing a rocket with pinpoint precision based on image comparison technology. The system identifies a target according to a picture “pre-fed” into the memory of the homing device. After locating the object, the missile zeroes in on the target with absolute precision. This technology is capable of hitting a target even if attempts are made to jam the firing mechanism’s GPS receivers. On the other hand, the weapon is costly and suitable mainly for high-quality targets.
Israel Military Industries (IMI) is in the advanced stages of developing the precision “Magic Spear” (“Kidon Kasoum”) rocket for ranges of 45 kilometers. The warhead weighs 35 kilos. The rocket is GPS-guided and the average degree of accuracy is ten-meter dispersion around a target.
IAI is also working on a precision weapon for ground forces at ranges even greater than what the “call” asked for: up to fifty kilometers. This state-of-the-art weapon, the “Jumper”, is a missile system fired from canisters that hits target with pinpoint accuracy. IsraelDefense learned that following the “call” – development and production of a rocket or missile for the tactical infantry level is expected to be included in the IDF’s multiyear “Halamish” program for 2012-2016. Final discussions on the program should begin in the latter half of this year.
A senior IDF officer acknowledged that the IDF is indeed “seriously weighing” precision rocket replenishment, “in the realization of their importance and need on the battlefield. The entry of ground forces in the world of short-range rockets and missiles is the correct move, the need is growing stronger all the time”, says the officer.