The world of UAVs is constantly advancing The world of UAVs is constantly advancing as UAVs execute more and more missions that were so far performed only by manned aircrafts. Maj. Gen. (res.) David Ivri, ninth IAF Commander, believes that the future lies in them
Nadav Berger | Translation: Eden Sharon
The IAF has been operating UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for decades. At first, The UAVs were used as supplemental force in the missions of the manned aircraft. With the advancement of UAV technology and the change of IAF threats and targets, their operational importance increased.
“In the future, the fighter jets will supplement UAVs and will be used in missions that require manned aircrafts for reasons of safety and money savings”, predicted Maj. Gen. (res.) David Ivri, Commander of the IAF in the years 1977-1983, Head of “The Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies” and President of Boeing Israel, during the iHLS UAV conference last week.
UAVs: Versatile Weapons
“In terms of technology, this ability is already extant. Now we need to integrate the capabilities and make the mental change”, said Maj. Gen. (res.) Ivri. “Nonetheless, the UAVs can never completely replace fighter jets, because there will always be missions that demand manned aircraft”.
Today, UAVs perform various missions such as reconnaissance, aircrafts directing, assisting to ground forces and other missions, all that while presenting significant advantages over manned aircrafts including the ability to fly for long periods of time, low radar cross-section (The UAV’s detectability) and relatively low operation costs. During Operation “Protective Edge”, the UAVs took part in many missions and in times of calm, they are used for intelligence-gathering.
According to Maj. Gen. (res.) Ivri, what makes the UAVs so efficient is their versatility. “A versatile weapon, like a fighter jet, is one that can be upgraded with different systems according to the needs of the hour and the UAVs fit that description – Lasers and other aids can be installed on them if needed”.
The new technologies enable the UAVs to provide high quality intelligence, making them a significant part of the IAF. During the last campaign, the IAF had to track and identify individual terrorists in population centers – missions suitable for the advanced UAVs.
Alongside the improvement of UAVs, the enemy’s weapons are getting smaller, more mobile and some of them operate underground. “The main challenge today is finding targets in a very short time”, said Colonel (res.) Sha’ul Shachar, today Head of Military Aircraft Division in the IAI. “The Targets are less detectable and spread over wide areas”.
These changes led to the development of better cameras with higher resolution and a different operational outlook.
“We have acquired new capabilities that allow us to get wider information that was not obtainable before. That said, I always feel that we are just in the beginning and have a long way ahead of us”.