Israeli Army: Arming the present, planning the future

Training on MBT Merkava Mk IV. Israeli Army is completely based upon 120mm gun tanks. | (c) IDF

The Second World War has proved the army with the ability to adapt less to developments is doomed to follow the progress of its adversary  by usually paying a heavy price on the battlefield.
Someone can adjust to tactics: After the Battle of Crete Germans abandoned the large airborne operations. The Allies  used paratroopers three years later in mass with moderate (D-Day operations) or bad results (Operation Market Garden). Someone can adjust to materials: The entry of heavy armor into the Nazi and Soviet forces began a race between them for the dominant tank in the field. The West was left out of the race and relied on tank destroyers, numbers and strike aircraft for the duration of the war. An example here is the British built, up to the end, of tanks with pre-war specifications, when they captured samples of the superior (especially in armament) Nazi tanks starting from North Africa. Adaptation, as we can see, is a main policy for any army.

Our attention in this article focuses on the ability to adapt, on a small country’s armed forces. Israel had no tradition or experience in wars, other than individuals serving in European Armies.  It had no Defense industry or industrialists and bankers to benefit by. It had no protocol or military caste or any form of militarization in its society or history. Probably for another state, all the above would be extremely negative factors for the creation of strong armed forces. For Israel, it turned out to be an opportunity to evolve, without adding practices, trends and traditions of the past. Every war, every conflict was different in its nature. While Israel’s opponents were expecting a next war with the rules and understanding of the previous one, the Israelis had adapted to international developments in battle fields – and in more than one time, they had evolved beyond them.In 1956 the Suez Crisis demonstrated that their country, which had survived the 1948 war by sheer chance, had been adapted to the battlefield of Sinai. Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Moshe Dayan encouraged aggression, initiative and inventiveness - at the same time he was an Infantry man and relied on his branch and its special forces at the expense of armor, which Dayan saw as clumsy, pricey, and suffering from frequent breakdowns. A few years ago, the 7th Armored Brigade (ArmBrg), the only one in Israel, charged the "enemy" infantry during drills through a desert path and routed it before the eyes of army and branch commanders. The Israelis were taught on the spot!  The 7th ArmBrg was reinforced by two reserve armored brigades on Dayan orders, at the expense of his beloved Infantry. In the following operation Kadesh, the 7th ArmBrg proved to be the main battle tool. For the first time, on purpose at least, the Air Force branch was used directly in supporting the tanks, pointing to the future, a combination of Blitzkrieg and, WWII US Marine fashion, Close Air Support. In 1967, almost all of the army was transitioned to Armor, and this meant re-training staff and personnel, changing tactics, evaluating and absorbing lessons learned from Kadesh. The Six Days War shook the planet for both the unique use of Air Force, and for the complete transfer of an Infantry Reserve Militia to a Tank Professional Army with tremendous efficiency. Analysts saw improvements in all areas: Paratroopers made the first night airmobile attach in history using helicopters, Navy won using electronic warfare capabilities it had developed locally. Never a country had such an improvement in the history of warfare so fast – considering the fact Israel was poor, its economy was based on fruit and vegetable exports. That success resulted in Yom Kippur War that proved both that Israelis were human making mistakes and adaptation was still an Israeli edge. They proved that no one learns from their mistakes as fast as they do. The bitter victory came from altering a force of armored fist, to a mixed branch group, with paratroopers acting as mobile infantry and mortars in half-tracks as SP howitzers. The ‘unlikely to happen’ change, became ‘unbelievable to see’, especially when we consider they managed to change their mode of operation – its Armor Mentality - within two weeks!

M109 howitzer. US artillery pieces are planned to be replaced with Elbit similar systems. | (c) IDF

Immediately after the war, the army of this small but democratic country, wounded morally and numerically, began a wide range of assessment lead by the President of Supreme Court, judge Shimon Agranat. Conclusions were exported, attributed responsibilities were attributed. Through this unprecedented and unparalleled investigation and evaluation on winning troops, the Israelis absorbed what they had learned either in the victorious battles of the last days or in the embarrassing defeats of the first. Officers were retired and officers were promoted. Officers changed branch and commands, soldiers and reservists changed specialty and retrained, bases and camps changed role or mission, vehicles where upgraded or new ones were created from scratch.
The First Lebanese War found Israel with a mixed arms army using domestic tanks with active armor, mobile paratroopers with heavy anti-tank missiles, self-propelled artillery, attack helicopters, unmanned aircrafts and drones, and for the first time for Israel mechanized Infantry. Until the withdrawal from South Lebanon, Gaza and West Bank, the Israelis had -once again- turned their army into an army of occupation-policing and anti-guerilla war with an emphasis on Urban and Special Operations. This army was not made to fight but to police, and the rushed entry in South Lebanon in 2006 caused an earthquake to establishments and skeptics proving that adaptation is a rule and not luxury. In only 18 months the army transformed part of its military force into a joint branch maneuver army while retaining the other part -reserves of annual service- in occupation-policing duties. Another rapid adaptation based on military / civil analysis / researcher findings. The result was proven in Gaza in 2009, and took by surprise the world and of course their enemy. Again in 2014 the Israelis entered Gaza. The air attack another masterpiece similar to the legendary MOKED of 1967 or DENSITY of 2006. The army fully adapted to urban warfare, followed in.  Working at small levels up to company level, unprecedented aircraft and artillery support in extreme rapid call, response and punctuation. Active protection of armored vehicles is made operational, and the first destruction of an incoming anti-tank missile is recorded.
The adaptation of the Israeli Army to developments is unique and is proven to be its main weapon. As things evolve, we are standing before a major change in nature and materials. By examining the existing and desired additions will try to assume the outcome of another evolution!

Israelis emphasize traditionally on special operations. In the above picture we can see member of a reconnaissance (sayeret). | (c) IDF

Personnel - Organization
The Israeli Army maintains an active staff of about 130,000 officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers. The reserve includes 400,000 people.  Reservists are called yearly for retraining for a duration of two to four weeks for men up to their 40th year of age (although in some specialties the reserve reaches 54th) and 38th for women. Women usually stop being called after marriage or pregnancy. The military service ranges between 18 months (women) and 48 months (Special Forces officers) according to gender, specialty and rank. Conscription is obligatory for Jews and Druze, and optional for Christians and Muslims. Israel has no Military Academies for officers. All Officers are reservists who decided to stay in the army after the end of their term, and graduate/promote through internal schools. The hardest school and the core of the army is the non-commissioner officer (NCO) course. Any reservist can be promoted to NCO or Officer and though there he can reach the highest rank of Lieutenant General (only one, and Chief of Staff) through evaluation and attending all internal schools. As is the standard with NATO armies, Officers are selected to attend NATO Academies and Schools in Europe or North America.
There are four regional Commands, one per geographical region / border (North: Lebanon / Syria, Central: Jordan / Gaza / West Bank, South: Egypt) and an internal Home Front Command. There are no separate branches as in a separate Air Force / Navy / Army and the Israeli Defense Forces have only one General Staff. Forces are divided into Corps: Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Combat Engineers, Combat Intelligence, Air Force (including Air Defense Network) and Navy. Corps are supported by joint Directorates, directly assigned to the General Staff: Planning, Operations, Intelligence, Manpower, Military Courts, Computer Service and Technological/Logistics. Israel has no protocol, the only tradition that keeps going strong before the establishment of the official state is the multitude of Special Forces. Each branch/corps has one or more units, while the Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff included the renowned Sayeret Matkal unit. For better management of Special Forces while these are on foreign territory, Depth Headquarters were created in 2011.
All staff, units and camps are allocated to one of the four regional commands including air and naval forces. Units from all branches and corps jointly use bases and material. 2006 war proved that modern needs in C4I burdened regional command staff that had to control a number of divisions (traditional battle formation) and separate brigades and units. Three Army Corps Headquarters were created for the first time - one per regional command - with a small core of Officers and without subordinate units in time of peace.

An important part of today's training simulates battle within urban environment. | (c) IDF

Each regional Command has one Armored (ArmDiv) and a number of Territorial Divisions (TD).  TDs usually have battalions formed from reservists doing their annual service where ArmDivs use conscripts. Central Command has an extra division of Paratroopers acting as a Rapid Reaction Force. Divisions have support regiments, independent special battalions and combat brigades (Regiments of three battalions with a fourth support battalion (special support in Infantry brigades or combat engineering in armored brigades)). Logistics and artillery are Division assets. The total number of Brigades is unknown but calculated on the basis of active and reserve divisions, and on the sum of available materials. It is believed that Israeli Defense Forces have four active combat Divisions, with three active and two reserve brigades each, while 3 reserve Divisions per regional command can be filled with men and material in time of mobilization. In theory, reserve and active units are considered equal in all levels other than material stocked.
The organization is on ad hoc basis, traditional formations change units and role, yearly or per mission or per front / opponent thus making intelligence collection from analysts or enemy units a nightmare. There are three Headquarters (inspectorates) per branch subordinate to the General Staff that are have a role of overseeing air, naval or terrestrial units, personnel development and administration of branch schools and centers. ‘Air Force’ includes Air Defense units, helicopters, and along with ‘Navy’, a number of branch dedicated Special Forces units.  ‘Air Force’ and ‘Navy’ include also a special operations unit (units Shaldag and Shayeret 13 respectively) as a dedicated formation to the land oriented Sayeret Matkal. Airborne and naval bases belong operationally to the General Staff but have logistics and support from the regional command in which they based on. Every regional command, every division and almost every brigade or regiment has a special force or special operation unit with size ranging from battalion to team. Their role is usually task oriented traditional reconnaissance (sayeret) or counter-terrorism. Personnel can be internally transferred either within units of the same corps or in another corps, directorate or branch.  As it is the case in Israel, Officers are rapidly promoted e.g. a Colonel working as brigade commander can be as low as 40 years old. Officers retire -without a pension- around 40-45, with only a few chosen ones to promote to the few senior posts that need General ranks. Israeli Defense Forces follow Prussian doctrine of training and management of Officers and NCOs with a small ratio per troops. Initiative is enforced by example and not punished regardless of outcome.


Resevist units are considered equal to active ones! | (c) IDF

Main Battle Tanks
ΜΒΤ 460 Merkava Mk IV (120mm), 780 Merkava Mk III (120mm) | In storage 450 Merkava Mk II
After a long engagement with the domestic Merkava battle tanks program, which has delivered four main variants, today in service remain at least 460 Merkava Mk IV and 780 Merkava Mk III for active use or reserve formations. Production of Merkava Mk III began in 1989 and ended in 2003. Merkava Mk IV has been produced since 2004. The two models feature a 120mm MG253 gun, a four-man crew, and have the capacity to carry extra up to six people or a number of pallets, internally if required, due to the unique design of the vehicle with the engine in front. Merkava Mk IV is planned to be completed at 680 units, giving the Israeli Army a total of 1,460 main battle tanks.
In recent years, the massive withdrawal of aging material has been promoted with modern war material aiming for full exploitation of network centric war conditions. The M48 / M60 'Magach' and Merkava Mk I tanks have been withdrawn from the arsenal. As the armor units continue to be equipped with Merkava Mk IVs, Merkava Mk IIIs take the road to long storage, withdrawn from the rapid reaction reserve bases near the border. Merkava Mk IIs are more than a decade in long storage, planned to be used in patrols during collisions if required[1].

 Merkava Mk III take shots during exercises | © Israeli Defense Forces

The decommissioning of thousands of heavy vehicles, instead of keeping them in reserve is a unique phenomenon for Israel, which has traditionally kept huge numbers of material in excellent condition, modernized and with ready to be used crews. An example typical of the past is the call to action of Super Shermans reserve (of the 1956 war), as well modernized and modified T-54/55 (loot of 1967), in the 1973 war. The reason has three causes:
Primarily, the Armored Branch, once the main weapon of war after ‘Air Force’, has lost its importance, apparently because Israel has no rival with a fleet of battle tanks. Neighboring friendly countries - most notably Egypt - do not have the same quality in material (M-1 exports) or crews. The number of Merkava Mk III / IVs in service and reserve is judged to be satisfactory given its planned support. Secondly, the cost of maintaining battle tanks has exploded since they started to include aviation technology back in the mid-1980s. Israel even with the USA aid is unable to maintain large numbers of modern hardware, which is the reason tanks are losing in numbers all over the world. Finally, Navy expanded in missions, importance and cost of supply. 1973s victorious FAC flotilla has turned into a strong multiuse force. The tip of the spear are German conventional submarines (with the possibility of firing nuclear cruise missiles).
Unfortunately for the passionate of tanks in Israel, the greatest danger today is guerrilla war where the enemy acts abruptly and lost back to civilian population. The aim is quick reaction and suppression. It is something that requires upgrading technologically, since it is impossible for a man to act equally instantaneously. As a partial solution, it is planned to enter service in 2021 the new, more technologically advanced version of Merkava Mk IV, Barak[51]. Merkava Mk IV Barak's computer will guide the vehicle's driver more easily, and it will show ergonomically and collectively all the data required by the crew to make a timely decision whether to shoot or not. The key to success is advanced surveillance equipment, which will detect the armed forces at strikingly longer distances than now. Through an advanced C4I system, Barak's commander will be able to transfer real-time target data to other armored friends for effective and immediate handling. Within the Barak, computers dominate with touch screens using locally produced software.

The first graphic depiction of Carmel future armored vehicle appeared in "Latrun Week 2017".

For the reinforcement in mass of the armored forces, IDF promotes the development and production of a new armored vehicle. The first graphic depiction of the vehicle was made at the "Latrun Week 2017" (May 16-17, 2017). Carmel[46], as it is called, will not replace the Merkava Mk IV, but it will complement both the tank and the heavy APC Namer. The vehicle is not a traditional IFV but it is more akin to its nature with the British Ajax. Its main role will be the elimination of fortifications, especially in urban operations within the congested residential areas of Gaza and West Bank. Its weight will reach 35t. Carmel will be set apart from the current IFV models by an extensive level of automation that will allow the crew to be reduced to two (with a provision for the presence of a third crew member). The equipment will include a gun and a new Active Protection System (APS). It is too early to make any assessment on the level of protection provided, both against conventional threats and mines. Same can be assumed from for the caliber of the gun, or the kind of antitank munition - if any. Plans are for various variants to serve with the IFV, there will be a Logistics, a Combat Engineering and Reconnaissance vehicle[2]. It is likely that the development of a Mine Clearance, an Electronic Warfare and a C-RAM[63] vehicles to be considered. The entry of such a vehicle, after nearly 50 years of denial or indifference to AIFVs, this creation is probably a result of economic nature as as mentioned above, the cost of producing and maintaining a modern battle tank is inconceivable high.

APS Trophy on APC Namer. | (c) Israeli MoD

APS Systems
Exposure of precious battle tanks to enemy anti-tank missiles had disastrous results in 1973 and forced Israel to improvise on armor. Passive armor provides more than a meter of rolled homogeneous armor (RHA) in Merkava and Namer fronts. Still, Israel committing fully to protect lives after the Yom Kippur War, wanted more. Today both vehicles carry an Active Protection System (APS). The Trophy was the first to be operational during operation PROPECTIVE EDGE in 2014[12][13]. The system promises protection in a 360-degree arc while it is designed to handle only those enemy missiles that are certain to hit the carrier. The effectiveness of Trophy could explain why Carmel, although armored, will be much lighter than Namer.  Apart from Trophy, there is also IronFist system, which has been selected by the US and the Dutch Army. A more advanced APS, a combination of Trophy and IronFist, has been decided to be developed to fit into future Israeli armor[52].
The main objective remains to improve safety of staff and vehicles, with technology that provides complete awareness of tactical situation and around visibility without soldier’s exposure. These features are particularly useful for Urban operations. For example, Dragon Fire Control System, installed at Achzarit APC and Puma CEV, recognizes via external cameras and radar under various weather and combat conditions day or night distant targets, and allows for short bursts of accurate fire at a reactive range of 1,500 meters.
In August 2016, IronVision was also featured, designed to allow crews of APCs and tanks to "see" through the vehicle, in 360 degrees and in real time, powered by camera sensors at various points in the vehicle. The system, adapted to tank commander helmet, "promises" quicker and fuller awareness of tactical situation[43]. Finally, SupervisIB, a portable electro-optical sensor, reproduces a digital panoramic image.

Heavy APC Namer during exercises. Namer is to be produced in 600 units. | (c) IDF

Mechanised Infantry
Israel is one of the biggest users of APC M-113 worldwide, if not the main one, right after USA on numbers. The vehicle has been involved in operations from the seventies. Operational experience has revealed significant problems on the safety of the crew and the infantry carried on. As a result, Israeli Army turned to use heavy APCs for the first time in the First Lebanon War of 1982. In 2014, there were active 215 Achzarit, 400 Nagmachon / Nakpadon and 130 Namer APCs. The number of Namers since has risen steadily. The vast majority of APCs, however, are still M113 vehicles counted this year at 5,500 units in active or reserve formations.
Construction of Namer proceeds on time, on the basis of a $310 million procurement contract. The aim is to reach a total of 600 units. Operational trials of Trophy on Namer APC[23][24], as well as in the combat engineering version[25][26], are in progress. In addition, 100 Achzarit are being upgraded with a new engine and transmission[10]. The $17 million program will be completed in October 2017.

Wheeled APC Eitan. The vehicle is to replace part of the aging M113. | (c) IDF
HAPC >167 Namer, 215 Acharit, 400 Nagmachon/Nakpadon 
APC >5.500 M113, 300 Ze’ev
IDF has a tradition in Special Role vehicles. Armored Recovery Vehicles in crew training. | IDF

At the same time it is estimated that a quantity of older Merkava Mk II tanks will be modified into heavy APCs[21]. The program will be probably based on the older Namera test vehicle, which relied on Merkava Mk I, and yielded just one prototype. Israeli Army is gearing up the Merkava Mk II for use as armored ambulance and armored logistics transport.  In 2015 it was planned to build two prototypes, one of which was been completed[3].
In 2016, the Eitan armored vehicle appeared. The vehicle is the chosen one by the army to replace the fleet of M113s[20][28][29].  Eitan, which runs a test program at this point[37], has the Trophy installed from the factory, and is capable of being equipped with a 30-40mm gun. It can carry up to 12 soldiers, uses a 750hp engine and its speed reaches 90km/h[30][31]. Israeli Army believes the vehicle is more vulnerable to hostile fire as compared to a tracked armored vehicle, but Eitan costs half from Namer, which will accompany in the battle. An advantage of it is the movement on the dense road network of Israel without precious tank transporters.
ARV Centurion Mk2, Eyal, Merkava, M88A1, M113 ARV 
AEV 100 D9R, 3 Ami, Puma, Namer
NBC 8 TPz-1 
MW M-123 Viper, Namer Carpet FAE 
VLB Alligator MAB, M48/60, Namer MTU [materials] Gilois, TAB, TLB 
CP Μ557Α2 
UGV Guardium, Viper, Bobcat, Segev

M270 MLRS. Local guided rocket Romah replaces M26. | IDF

Field Artillery
Weakest link in 1973 was the lack of field artillery.  Augmentation in the following years has been at rapid pace both in traditional self-propelled platforms and in multiple rocket launchers. Israel continues to convert tank chassis to artillery system carriers of all types while it receives second-hand systems from USA.
The number of MLRS systems was strengthened in 2014 and 2015 with 15 used systems from US surpluses. It is unknown whether Israel has purchased ground-to-ground missiles MGM-140 ATACMS, but under procurement there is a quantity of guided GMLRS rockets with a maximum range of 84 km[4]. Systems also carry the Romah domestic guided rocket[50]. Romah has a range of 32km, warhead 20kg and CEP <10m. Each launcher carries a total of 36 Romah. Under testing is Lance rocket, which can neutralize ground targets up to 40km[17].
Artillery excellent in 2009 and 2014, delivering fast fire with great precision. The training of artillery crews and observers was obvious, while the training of the other branches in calling fire was equally excellent. (Note: Austria won this year's Strong Europe Tank Challenge with 30 year old Leopard2A4s thanks to its highly trained crews. They were more than good, in shooting targets and executing operational procedures, but they excelled calling in artillery fire[61]).
MLR 63 M270 (12x227mm), 50 LAR-160 (16x160mm), 58 BM-21 (40x122mm) | In storage 20 LAR-290 (290mm) and 12 SSM launchers MGM-52 LANCE
SP Guns 36 M110 (203mm), 36 to 70 M107 (175mm), 600 M109A5 (155mm), 120 L-33 & Μ-50 (155mm) 
In storage 81 M-839P/M-845P (155mm), 50 M-68/M-71 (155mm), 40 M-46 (155mm), 100 M-46 (130mm), 5 D-30 (122mm) towed guns

Locally produced MLR C-Lynx. Israel plans the purchase of extended range rockets. | (c) IMI

There is an interest for acquiring large number of extensive range and precision ground-to-ground weapons such as EXTRA (range 93 miles), Predator Hawk (range 185 miles) and LORA (range 186 miles), that will not be easily intercepted by the enemy. EXTRA can be launched from the available Lynx MLRs[49]. This action is opposed by the Israeli Air Force, arguing that she is best suited to tack and destroy terrestrial targets, a long distance behind enemy lines. We do not know whether Air Force can get resources from Field Artillery, as the latter has one – and probably two – units of special forces with specialized A/T weapons carriers as we will see below. This system absorbed up to 50% of the defense budget for some years until its development during the early seventies, and even until Pereh's revelation in 2015 served under deep secrecy. This is a clear example of Artillery’s ability to handle long-range reckon and fire missions.
Another goal is to replace the early versions of M109 self-propelled howitzer. The systems are considered worn out, since several of the howitzers started to serve in the 1970s. A contract was awarded for the replacement to Elbit[5]. It is believed that the new system will be based on current ATMOS. The new howitzer must have a greater range than M109 and "shoot & scoot" ability[16][34]. As a carrier for the turret, 150 M270 MLRS chassis have already been transferred from USA. Another option for consideration is to upgrade domestically the M109s while through EDA process there is an offer of 50 M109A5s from USA. IAI company took over the production of 5,000 TopGun collections[27][47], converting conventional 155mm artillery shells into precision ammunition.
Artillery personnel recently attended a speech from the chief of staff of Northern Command. The latter insisted on Artillery Precision Weapons (APW) and rapid response, to urban environment with unique precision[60]. The number of APW collections, the new howitzer, and the MLR launchers will transform Israeli Artillery. The once weakest link is destined to dominate the battlefield with world class abilities and material.

While Pereh is being withdrawn, the combination M113/Tamuz will remain in service. | (c) IDF

AT Weapons and Mortars
After 30 years of service in the shadows as mentioned above and in use Artillery SFs, the existence of the self-propelled Pereh antitank carrier was announced in 2015[6][8][9]. It is essentially a M-48 Patton tank with an integrated launcher in the turret. Pereh carries a faux gun in a swollen turret that hides 12 SPIKE NLOS (Tamuz) antitank tubes that can hit targets at a maximum distance of 25km. However, in the context of withdrawal of old war material, it was decided for the Pereh to withdraw. SF unit ‘Meitar’ which operates the system, has executed 1,000 operational shots in its 30 years of life, the most recent of which was in 2016 against ISIS in the Golan Heights. Israeli Army's plans include the use of a new version of Tamuz with a maximum range of 30km, while the use of the existent weapon by the current M113 carrier remains available.
Like second hand MLRS, mortar carrier (MC) M1064A3s have been acquired in recent years by US surpluses. Vehicles are equipped with an automated version of the 120mm "Cardom" mortar, which is also in use by the US Army. The automated modern MC, also known as "Keshet"[62], has been upgraded with an improved Fire Control System that reduces CEP to less than 33m and increased both the range to over 7km and the rate of fire.
For the best operational use of "Keshet", a LG2MK set has been developed, which uses laser guidance. There is also a GMM set[48] selected to use by Israeli infantry. GMM uses GPS guidance or laser beam. GMM boasts immediate neutralization of  target and reduction of collateral losses. Such sets, are defined by great precision, and allow troop support with fires, closer to friendly units closer than ever before.  By this they limit friendly or civilian losses. This, of course, does not eliminate the use of non-directed weapons, which remain useful for other missions.
In any case, Keshet automated mortars introduce full and network-centric practices to the battalion fire support teams. Mortars, as we see, follow the practices of Artillery in every field and the same time being a cheap solution that is easier to transport in urban environments over light vehicles.
Anti-tank MAPATS, TOW, SPIKE MR/LR/ER/NLOS, Nimrod, M-47 Dragon, Matador 
Anti-tank carriers ~40 Pereh, M113 SPIKE NLOS, Μ113 MAPATS/TOW
Mortars 650 (120mm), 1.350 (81mm) 
Mortar carriers >300 Μ1064A3 (120mm)

Along with UAVs Israelis use reckon balloons. | (c) IDF

UAVs, Filed Intelligence and Communications
Artillery and Air Force operate a number of Hermes 450 systems[7]. Advanced tests are performed on Skylark 3[39][41]. The latter is designed to collect information up to 60km range. Skystar 300 balloons were withdrawn. The systems, used for surveillance missions, were replaced the newer Skystar 330[18][22]. In use are various types of ground-based anti-artillery radars, while a portable system used to alert for incoming mortar munition is developed jointly with Motorola[40]. Elbit will  deliver new communications systems on a $100 million contract[44].
UAV Hermes 450 
Mini-UAV Skylark LE/Skylark II, Ghost-Mini, Spylite
Kamikaze-UAV Hero
Reckon Balloons Skystar 330, Hila

Israel does not hesitate to use commercial state-of-the-art technology. Google Glass gives immediate image transfer of the battlefield to High Command. | (c) IDF

The Israeli Armed Forces ability upgrade program, named as "IDF 2030", focuses on Cyberwar, intelligence gathering, land platform flexibility, Network-centric War, Air Supremacy, Air Defense, Multidimensional Strike, Special Operations in Depth, border security, naval defense, and Logistics (the so-called "war in the wars")[15].
In addition to "IDF 2030", Armored Brigades are experimenting with Humvee vehicles for its special forces in reconnaissance missions[19]. Planned is the test of Iron Vision system on Merkava tanks. The system, attached on the helmet of the  tank commander, boats for quicker and fuller awareness on the tactical situation[43]. Israeli Defense Forces are studying the integration of a new UAV to meet brigade needs and the use of Google Glass glasses by soldiers for better and faster transmission of information to officers[14]. Except from supplying and installing Trophy system on the main types of armored vehicles, the idea of using robots as decoys/baits in the battlefield is revived[33]. In addition, a new doctrine of Artillery use is introduced - Its main feature is joint and simultaneous use of howitzers, anti-tank missiles and MLR systems[11][32][42][60].
Artillery / mortar locating radars AN/TPQ-37, AN/PPS-15, EL/M-2112, EL/M-2084, AN/TPQ-48, Shilem
Infantry and Special Forces

SF are the tip of the spear of IDF. The new Commando Brigade imitates JSOC trades. | (c) IDF

Infantry plans to integrate UAVs at battalion and brigade level. UAVs will be used in mass and by a large number of soldiers to collect information and show targets[53][54][55].
Special Operations were boosted with the formation of commando brigade Oz that includes all battalion sized units that are not under top command. The formation has operational command of units that originate, camp and train in either one of the six active Infantry brigades or under Central Regional Command. The brigade includes Egoz Unit (specialized in anti-guerrilla operations in Lebanon) from  Golani Brigade, Duvdevan Unit (specialized in covert and anti-terrorist operations in Gaza and  West Bank) from Central Command, Rimon Unit (Desert  Operations) from Givati ​Brigade, and Maglan Unit (deep penetration operations) from Tzanhanim Brigade. Duvdevan, along with Police Special Anti-Terrorist units, is at permanent rapid response stand-by and is very secretive second only to Sayeret Matkal. Oz is the result of the reorganization program Gideon and as a standard it has the American 75th Ranger Regiment. To make best use of the brigade, an interface with the latest versions of C4I “Digital Ground Army” system is being promoted.
Sayeret Matkal (Intelligence Directorate), Shaldag (Air Force) and Shayeret 13 (Navy Unit), operate under the new "Depth Command" created especially for them in 2011 for control in operations deep inside enemy territory. Deep Command is directly under the Chief of the General Staff[56][57][58][59].

Israeli troops during drills. | (c) IDF

IDF is obviously turning to US solutions, as they developed the previous decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. The time of enemy heavy armored armies is gone. Light opponents with heavy machine guns, anti-tank weapons and IEDs, act under cover, in urban or semi-urban environment always beside civilians. Their missions small or large are based on commando tactics.
Israelis are equipping and training for an ultra-fast paced war. 24/7 reaction to soldiers or paramilitaries, is more important than ever. Traditional audacious action comes second. Israeli awaits a Second Lebanon type war this time all around and inside. Technology is considered to be more important than ever. It is a mean of collecting information and projecting and using force in long distances. In this way fast precise and distant hits with specialized munitions, replace armor advancing slowly using weapons in line of sight.
Training is being updated in a qualitative manner. The time it takes to fully train and field experienced soldiers, might give us the first professional troops in Israeli history, in case IDF decides that 3 years are few for the quality needed on ground.
The cost of maintaining IDF, now with ultra-expensive F-35s stealth fighters, Dolphin submarines, smart long range munition and missiles, modern C4I systems etc. is enormous. High -tech systems are pulling resources from the traditional tracked armored ones – in which are incorporated gradually equally modern and expensive systems.
Israel is not in the 1950s and 1960s where the citizens literally gave everything to defense - neither are the threats the same. What we see here is a battle, the hardest of all, where a country struggles to build powerful and modern forces, against cost of acquisition, usage and training. This battle has been lost worldwide. USA is left alone in the winner’s position, having an enormous 600 billion dollars defense budget. USA paves the way for others to learn, copy and implement.
It remains to be seen whether Israel a country with a unique ability to adapt, will continue to follow closely US actions. It remains also to be seen whether future defense budget will be enough to man and field a complete set of land, air and naval assets and formations, or it will leave IDF with an enhanced branch / capability /asset at the top, having medium-or-less abilities in the rest, a case followed by many NATO forces.


[1]Armored Corps starts retiring its Merkava Mark II tanks”, The Jerusalem Post,
[2]Unveiled at Latrun Week: a Simulation of Project Carmel”, Israel Defense,

[3]Merkava 2 conversion into other vehicles”, Below The Turret Ring,

[4]Barkhane: bilan opérationnel du déploiement du LRU”, Ministère des Armées,

[5]Elbit selected to produce new howitzer for IDF”, IHS Jane’s 360,

[6]Israeli army uses main battle tank Magach 5 fitted with 12 Spike anti-tank missile launchers”, Army Recognition,

[7]Israel's artillery corps starts using the ElbitSystemsLtd Hermes450 tactical UAV”, Army Recognition,

[8]TOP SECRET: After 30 years, we present our sophisticated tank, equipped with anti-tank missiles”, @IDFSpokesperson,

[9]Analysis: IDF breaks 33-year silence on M48 Tamuz missile launcher”, IHS Jane's 360,

[10]Israel to upgrade more Achzarit APCs”, IHS Jane’s 360,

[11]Israel's Artillery Corps prepares for future battlefields”, IHS Jane’s 360,

[12]Το Trophy αναχαιτίζει πέντε Α/Τ πυραύλους στη Γάζα”, Army Recognition

[13]The return of the tank”, Ynetnews,,7340,L-4550677,00.html

[14]Military technology for the next generation: Google Glass technology used by IDF soldiers”, IDF Blog,

[15]Israel Begins Modernization Plan Through 2030”, Defense News,

[16] Israeli Artillery Corps looks for a new self-propelled howitzer”, IHS Jane’s 360,

[17]Το Ισραήλ δοκίμασε το «Λόγχη», το νέο πυραυλικό σύστημα πυροβολικού καθοδηγούμενου με GPS εκτοξευόμενο από…”, Προέλαση,

[18]Israel orders more Skystar aerostats”, IHS Jane’s,

[19]IDF armoured brigade adopts Humvees for reconnaissance: An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reconnaissance company ...”, IHS Jane’s,

[20]Israel developing wheeled APC”, IHS Jane’s,

[21]News update: Israel converting retired Merkava 2 tanks - The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has started to convert...”, IHS Jane’s,

[22]IDF replacing aerostats with new Skystar 330”, IHS Jane’s,

[23]IsraelDefense unveiled the first Namer APC fitted with the Trophy anti-missile system”, Army Recognition,

[24]Namer APCs with Trophy system rolling off production lines”, The Jerusalem Post,

[25]Israel Tests Engineering Versions of APS-Protected Troop Carrier”, Defense News,

[26]The IDF's new Engineering Namers are fitted with the Rafael Carpet FAE mine-clearing system”, Jeremie Binnie,

[27]Israeli Army Taps IAI’s Topgun for Precision Artillery Project”, Defense News,

[28]Israel’s Ministry of Defense unveils new Eitan wheeled armored personnel carrier”, Defence Blog,

[29]Eitan, a new wheeled, 8x8 APC was unveiled today by Israel's MOD Tank Development Program Office. The vehicle is...”, Defense-Update,

[30]Some Eitan specs from the MoD”, Jeremie Binnie,

[31]Israel Eitan 8x8 APC armoured vehicle personnel carrier technical data sheet

[32]IDF introducing new artillery doctrine

[33]Israeli Firm Revives Old Concept With Advanced Robotics

[34]IDF Artillery Corps to procure high-mobility self-propelled artillery system, 155mm ATMOS by Elbit is main contender

[35]Tibon: Most of Israeli soldiers are located at the moment in Judea and Samaria

[36]IDF is constantly dealing with protecting the settlements instead of training for the next war

[37]Israel: IDF unveils its first wheeled APC 8x8 'Eitan' finished first round testing with the Nahal Infantry Brigade

[38]Israel, Oshkosh Conclude $200 Million FMTV Buy

[39]Israel Defense Forces confirm a new generation of Elbit SkyLark-3

[40]Israël: système d’alerte contre obus de mortier

[41]IDF trials new Skylark

[42]Israel's Artillery Corps prepares for future battlefields

[43]IDF to trial Elbit's IronVision in Merkava MBT”, IHS Jane’s 360,

[44]Israel orders advanced radio systems”, Shephard Media,

[45]Israeli Artillery Corps poised for longer-range, improved precision strikes”, Defense News,

[46]Unveiled at Latrun Week: a Simulation of Project Carmel”, Israel Defense,

[47]IDF Takes IAI’s TopGun Artillery Guidance System into Service”, Israel Defense,

[48]Guided mortars used by IDF to be marketed at Brazil defense exhibition”, The Jerusalem Post,

[49]IMI Systems introduces C-LYNX Lightweight Multiple Rocket Launcher System”, Israel Defense,

[50]Israel’s New Super-Precise GPS Guided Missiles About to Enter Service”, Sputnik,

[51]IDF General: Latest Merkava tank, APC, to ensure superiority on the battlefield”, The Jerusalem Post,

[52]Rafael, IAI and IMI will jointly develop the next generation of “Trophy””, Israel Defense,

[53]IDF considers rotary-wing UAVs for battalion-level ops”, Flight Global,

[54]IDF seeks larger brigade-level UAV”, Flight Global,

[55]Israel to issue request for personal UAS”, Flight Global,

[56] “Israel Stands Up New Commando Brigade”, Defense News,

[58]IDF Establishes a New Commando Brigade”, Defense-Update,

[60]IDSEF 2017: Challenges of artillery use”, Shephard,

[62]Keshet – the IDF New Automated Mortar”, Defense-Update,

[63]IDF Carmel details emerge”, Below The Ring,