Operation Protective Edge provided a trial ground where numerous new weapon systems were employed operationally for the first time. During the fighting, numerous trials were conducted on new weapon systems, and in many cases technological resources were employed operationally even before they had been officially declared "operational", or became officially operational during the actual fighting.
A notable debut appearance was made by RADA’s MHR Radar system. The MHR Radar was linked to the central early-warning system of IAF and assisted in detecting enemy mortar shells and UAVs. RADA’s MHR Radar system had been deployed in the Gaza Strip sector before the fighting started, but during the actual fighting additional Radar systems were deployed in the sector, linked to the central early-warning systems and became operational.
RADA also manufactures the Radar system for the Iron Fist armored vehicle active protection system, in cooperation with IMI.
The Green Rock Tactical C-RAM (Counter Rockets, Artillery & Mortars) system by IAI/ELTA entered operational employment in the Gaza Strip in record time. This mobile, autonomous tactical radar system travels with the maneuvering elements and provides them with protection. The Green Rock C-RAM system detects, spots and provides alerts of such steep/curved trajectory threats as rockets, mortar and tube artillery shells and also enables detection of such aerial targets as UAVs, hang-gliders and so forth.
The Green Rock C-RAM system (ELM-2138T), developed by ELTA, a division of IAI, consists of a dual-band electronic steering array (ESA) Radar system (with no mechanical rotation), capable of detecting and tracking multiple targets simultaneously.
The Poter Shamayim system by NESS TSG also made an impressive debut appearance during Operation Protective Edge. This system can provide an accurate map reference by "pricking" a map, and provided a target acquisition capability to IDF attack platforms during the operation. The system provides the lateral and longitudinal location data of the target, thereby helping to direct precision guided munitions directly to the target, while keeping collateral damage to a minimum.
The IDF Armored Corps began using the IMI Hatzav shell (M329 APAM-MP-T) operationally during Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. This projectile was developed by IMI and the IDF Ground Arm pursuant to lessons drawn from the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead. The 120mm Hatzav shell, fitted with a delay mechanism, is intended to penetrate the first (outer) wall of a building and only detonate inside the building. The shell is highly accurate and provides tanks with a surgical urban warfare tool that minimizes collateral damage.
Another new weapon system that entered operational employment is the Hermes-900 UAV, which has been undergoing pre-assimilation trials by IAF for the past few months. The Hermes-900 UAV was declared fully operational to all intents and purposes during the fighting. It is the latest addition to the Hermes family of UAVs by ELBIT SYSTEMS. This Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) tactical UAV was designed to perform surveillance and intelligence collection missions for the brigade, divisional and army corps echelons and is capable of carrying payloads for various mission types.
The SkyEye system by Elbit Systems was also employed extensively during Operation Protective Edge. SkyEye is a payload and C4I system for terrain dominance missions.
New unmanned vehicles were employed operationally for the first time during Operation Protective Edge. One of these vehicles was an unmanned M113 APC. It was operated from a control center on the Israeli side of the border, by operators equipped with a display screen that presented the vision viewed from the APC driver’s cabin, along with acceleration and braking pedals. The unmanned M113 APC was developed by the G-NIUS Company – a joint venture of IAI and Elbit Systems, which also manufactures the Guardium - the world’s first unmanned vehicle that performs patrol missions along the border.
During the fighting, the Tamar Company developed systems for using liquid explosives in order to blow up the offensive subterranean tunnels found in the Gaza Strip, as well as a new technique for coping with those tunnels.
Other weapon systems that made their debut appearance during the operation will be reviewed in future articles.