In the digital era, everything is rapidly and constantly changing. The technological development and enormous amount of information presents a new challenge to the IDF, primarily the application of this information and knowledge in operational activity. The IDF's growing reliance on the digital world creates a great defense challenge that is ever-changing. The Technological R&D Mission Support Division’s challenge is to make relevant information accessible to the entire IDF when they need it.
As members of a technological unit, the directorate’s soldiers think of and develop advanced technology, which have major impacts on operational activity in the field, their own commanders, and even the of the State of Israel.
These are just some of the unit’s key developments:
The IDF Smartphone
In January 2014, the Ministry of Defense signed a $100 million contract with Motorola to manufacture the next generation of military cellular devices.
As a result of the deal, Motorola developed the Lex M20 smartphone using the Technological R&D Mission Support Division’s interface. The smartphone comes with a 5.1-inch HD touch screen, but lacks all of the apps that are on your average smartphone. It’s able to communicate with most of the IDF's communications systems, and it is the only smartphone in Israel that can make VoLTE (voice over LTE) calls using 4G infrastructure.
The smartphone also includes rear and front cameras, but you can’t take a selfie. In the future, troops will use the camera to transmit situation assessments to the relevant parties throughout the IDF.
Z-Tube is a YouTube-esque platform that aggregates video footage from security and operational cameras at sea, on land, and in the air. The user, be it a private or a superior officer, can connect to the IDF's internal network, enter Z-Tube, and choose the desired video to view in real time. The developers aim to make it accessible on mobile devices in the future.
Z-Tube works with the IDF's current means of viewing photographs from operational cameras. There is no longer a need to switch quickly between channels. With Z-Tube, the content comes to the user in real time. The system is powered by the internet, is user-friendly, and allows users to connect it to other information systems.
Developers are working on a number of mobile projects, at the center of which is the "Mobile Terminal" project. Along with the commanding officer, there is a team that manages combat and emergency situations and their ability to function depends on a computerized casing that enables access of various types of information sharing and communication.
The terminal is an aluminum box on a rigid steel base that contains all the communication equipment and transfers information between units. It's capable of providing everything required to operate it completely for more than 24 hours without refueling until a system-wide inter-system merger provides a suitable working environment for communications equipment.
The communications technicians are connected to a specific contact battalion and operate as a satellite liaison unit that brings news to the commanders and constitute a significant leap forward in the IDF's satellite communication capabilities.
The terminal gives communication commanders independence. In the past, they were dependent on the 383rd Battalion, which is responsible for the operational communications systems. However, with this terminal, the officers will be able to use them without assistance and connect to the IDF network by themselves.
Warning Systems for the Home Front Command
The Computer and Home Front Planning Division is responsible for the innovation and development of advanced warning systems for the Home Front Command. When a rocket penetrates Israeli territory, Israeli Air Force (IAF) sensors detect the source and type of the threat, transmit signals, and activate the warning. These warnings set off sirens throughout the country and civilians receive them via television, radio, and smartphones.
A missile launched at Tel Aviv (in central Israel) will not cause sirens to ring in other parts of the country, such as the south or the north. This reduces the panic, gives a sense of security, and prevents many people from running to bomb shelters when it’s not necessary.
Among the new developments is “Nofar,” which can be connected to loudspeakers in crowded public places, such as train stations, schools, malls, and private neighborhoods. This provides an additional layer of warning in the event that the siren doesn't reach these places. Another system is a "mobile horn," a mobile warning system deployed to areas where the siren cannot be heard.
In the future these systems can be used to warn against other threats, such as earthquakes, and even automatically distinguish between different types of threats.