IDF’s new drone unit to maintain ‘hovering supremacy’ over terrorists

IDF looks to the future as a battle of the drones may be a significant part of a future confrontation between Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Intelligence Directorate of the IDF inaugurated a new drone unit on Wednesday.

Over a dozen drones, some large and some small, will be controlled by operators in Unit 9900, which runs the intelligence agency’s satellites and a wide range of visual technologies.

The machines can fly and hover over enemy-held territory and use mapping information taken from satellites and airplanes as well as topological information gathered en route to build a three-dimensional map of the target.

That information is shared with IDF soldiers and pilots during their mission.

The drones aren’t affected by changing atmospheric conditions as they fly so low. Specialized cameras aren’t impacted by day or night either. The ability to provide up-to-the-minute accuracy will better protect soldiers and innocent civilians who might be in the area.

A senior officer of the unit told Makor Rishon on Friday that both Hamas and Hezbollah have decent drone capabilities themselves to spy on the IDF. The Army invests a good deal of resources to counter the terrorists’ intelligence-gathering abilities.

In any future confrontation, the officer said, the big challenge will be to gain “hovering supremacy” over the terrorist organizations, just as the IAF works to achieve regular air supremacy against state actors.

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As reported in the Israeli weekly, the cutting edge technology involved is not in the cameras or drones themselves, which are available commercially, but in the artificial intelligence program created by the intelligence officers that processes all the data, and the encrypted communications network that allows for the safe transmission of the top-secret information.

This has made the drone unit a very cost-effective tool for the IDF, which is all the more attractive at a time of world-wide belt-tightening due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new investment in the intelligence realm was planned well before COVID-19 hit since it is part of the IDF’s five-year Momentum plan being rolled out piece by piece by Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.