IAI Unveiled a Robotic Submarine

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced this weekend the first large Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), called BlueWhale. According to IAI announcement, the submarine has successfully undergone thousands of autonomous operation hours, including intelligence-gathering for both maritime and coastal targets, acoustic intelligence, and identifying the presence of naval mines. The autonomous submarine can perform its missions for periods of several weeks, without the need for operators on board.

“For the first time in the world, IAI’s Elta managed to bring to maturity the development and production of an autonomous underwater system able to perform a wide range of tasks,” said IAI VP and ELTA’s CEO, Yoav Tourgeman. The 5.5 tons Electric UAV BlueWhale (code named ELI-3325) reaches speeds of up to 7 knots and can stay for up to 30 days on sea. Payload sensors and communications options include RADAR, EO/IR, SIGINT, sonars, magnetic sensors and SATCOM.

The BlueWhale is equipped with a telescopic mast, like the periscope of a manned submarine, several meters high, on which are mounted radar and electro-optical systems for detecting sea and coastal targets. By using a satellite communications antenna on the mast, the gathered data can be transferred in real-time to command posts, anywhere in the world, at sea or on land.

Submarine detection and acoustic intelligence-gathering data is enabled using a sonar, several tens of meters long, towed by the BlueWhale, and by flank array sonar with receiver arrays attached to both sides of the platform. Mine detection is performed using a dedicated synthetic aperture sonar, attached to the sides of the vessel. IAI also revealed that the development of the system brought to  a number of international registered patents.

IAI developed cloud-based satellite control station

Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Space Division announced the completion of the development of Blue Sphere – a ground station for Satellite control and command, based on a new concept of cloud-based virtual control system. Operating the station using the cloud extends the satellite’s availability and releases the operators from their dependency on satellite passing times. With this new technology, the satellite able to transmit the information to any available ground station, anywhere across the globe. From this ground station the information will be sent directly to the cloud.

With this new ability, the satellite is capable of transmitting the gathered information to the cloud, allowing the ground station to push or pull the information promptly, independently from receiving stations scattered throughout the globe. This is a unique concept shaped by the IAI, developed in accelerated mode at the IAI Innovation center, together with the global startup accelerator Starburst Aerospace.

Shlomi Sudri, General Manager of IAI’s Space Division, says that the new Blue Sphere system promote satellites to a level of 24/7 availability. “The concept has been proven, and we currently develop advanced version of the ground station for our worldwide customers”.

New class of mini communication satellite

The new virtual control station will be presented later this month at the Dubai Airshow. Last week the IAI revealed its new MCS – Mini Communication Satellite at Dubai’s International Astronautical Congress. The MCS comes with digital communication payload and software architecture which allows for loading applications from the ground to the space, during it travel, in order to alter the mission according to the changing communication needs.

The life span of the new satellite is not less than 14 years, it weighs 650 kg at launch and includes a complete digital communication payload weighing up to 200 kg. Due to its light weight, the satellite can be launched together with other satellites, significantly lowering launch costs. According to Sudri, the satellite provides “supreme space technology for countries and space operators who doesn’t need large satellite. The new mini satellite establishes a new niche in the communication satellites’ world”.

The satellite is based on capabilities developed for the “Dror 1” project. At the start of 2020, the Israeli government asked the IAI to build and develop the Dror 1 satellite as the new national communication satellite for the state of Israel. The IAI’s Missile and space systems division is in charge of development of aerospace defense systems, including Hetz 2, Hetz 3, Barak 8, observation satellites, communication satellites, Nanosatellites and satellites launchers.

IAI to Develop Digital Technologies for Future Armored Fighting Vehicle

Above: IAI concept of digital cockpit for the Carmel program

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been selected by Israel’s Ministry of Defense (IMoD) as the prime contractor and integrator for developing the concept and technologies for the future armored fighting vehicle (AFV) for the IDF – the Carmel. IAI competed against Rafael and Elbit. At the conclusion of a live demonstration of a two-man, closed hatches AFV, IAI was selected by the IMoD to develop the next phase of the Carmel.

The innovative AFV introduces a step change in the operational capability of combat vehicles. This is underpinned by applying autonomous capabilities and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accelerate decision making and facilitate target engagement with dramatically increased rapidity and accuracy. The two crew members operate a range of systems alongside integrated autonomous, air, and land platforms, enabling significant improvement in maneuverability.

IAI President and CEO, Boaz Levy, said that Carmel brings to the world of land combat the concept of system of systems. “Carmel will enable complex ground operations with less risk to human lives, which will transform ground combat strategy as we know it today.” IMOD plan to demonstrate this concept on board IDF’s first wheeled APC, the “Eitan”. The Eitan is an 8-wheeled armored combat vehicle capable of carrying 13 combat soldiers. It was developed in Israel and is expected to replace IDF’s veteran M113 APCs.

Eitan, IDF's first wheeled APC
Eitan, IDF’s first wheeled APC

Carmel concept is based on automatic and autonomous systems that complement the two-man team, and operate the central subsystems – the vehicles’ mission planning and management, situational awareness, driving and lethality. The system has the ability to locate and destroy time-sensitive targets with small footprints, through quick acquisition and effective engagement of targets.

During the evaluation tests, IAI presented a technology concept based on its autonomous systems and robotic vehicles. It consists of a panoramic display and a game-like control system, and an autonomous and combat management systems enhanced by Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence. IAI’s CARMEL also includes target acquisition systems, radar system, a passive multi-spectral sensor system and an active protection system.


ELTA Revealed SAR-based Counter-IED/Mine Suite

Recognizing that no single sensor can provide adequate and accurate detection of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and Mines, IAI has developed an integrated Counter-IED and Counter Mine protection system that is said to reliably detect surface and underground IEDs, mines, and roadside bombs. Based on IAI’s ELTA new SAR radar, the Counter-IED and Counter Mine Suite (CIMS) ELI-3375, employs Surface IEDs Detection Radar, GigaPix Optical Detection System and IR-based underground Mine and IED Detection System.

ELTA has disclosed that the suite can detect Disguised IEDs and Mines and to provide 270˚ early warning coverage of the combat platform (manned or unmanned). It also provides automatic cueing of the investigating sensors and Clean Route recordings of obstacles, IEDs and mines. There is an option to equip the system with countering techniques and hard kill systems tailored according to the specific needs.

The new system belongs to a new genetration of small and mobile Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR) produced by ELTA Systems. Earlier this week it announced another lightweight SAR codenamed ELM-2054, for use in Small Tactical UAVs (STUAV), tactical VTOL UAVs, ultra-light reconnaissance aircraft, aerostats, and other compact airborne platforms.

The ELM-2054 reaches a range of up to 20KMs with a weights of only 8kgs-10kgs, in a power envelope of less than 200 Watt and 28 Vdc. It provides SAR Strip area collection rate of up to 750 km2/hour and performs onboard processing of SAR images enabling low downlink data rates. Main missions include Surveillance, Damage Assessment, Anti-terror warfare, Counter narcotics and smuggling prevention, Monitor disaster areas and Maritime missions.

IAI and HENSOLDT Cooperation on Ballistic Missile Defense

ELTA is the radar division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). As such, it also responsible for the development of the powerful radar of Israel’s Ballistic Missile Defence Systems. Last month IAI announced a cooperation agreement with HENSOLDT to supply new radars to the German Armed Forces to modernise their airspace surveillance and build up Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) capabilities.

The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment has placed an order for the delivery and installation of four long-range radars worth approximately 200 million euros. For this purpose, Hensoldt has entered into a cooperation in the field of BMD-capable long-range radars with ELTA. Headquartered in Taufkirchen near Munich, Germany, HENSOLDT develops sensor solutions for defense and security applications. With approximately 5,600 employees, HENSOLDT generated revenues of 1.2 billion euros in 2020.

IAI Integrates Naval Combat Suite on Sa’ar 6 Corvettes

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), together with the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (part of IMoD) and the Israeli Navy, completed the first phase of installing the MF-STAR (Magen Adir) radars on the Israeli Navy’s ‘Sa’ar 6’ corvettes.The next stage will be the  egration of the BARAK MX Air Defense System (Ra’am Adir) on the vessels. The radars will serve to locate and classify air and surface targets and help to build an advanced and detailed maritime picture of the surveillance area. The MF-STAR radar system will serve as the “brain” of the Israeli Navy’s new warships. It is also an important component of the BARAK Air Defense System.

ELTA’s MF-STAR (ELM-2248) is a digital AESA (Active Electronic Scanning Array) multi-function radar. It employs multi-beam and pulse Doppler techniques as well as Electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) techniques to extract low Radar cross-section (RCS) targets from complex clutter and jamming environments. The Transmit/Receive element digital output enables software only adaptive beam forming and mode variations to form a software defined radar. The MF-STAR antenna includes 4 scalable faces of active arrays in S-Band frequency. These 4 faces can be installed in various configurations and in different sizes.

Upon identifying a threat, the radar supplies all required data immediately to each control, defense and support systems on deck, enabling to respond in real-time. The BARAK MX Air Defense System provides both wide-area and targeted defense capabilities to an array of threats, including: land, air and sea. The system aggregates several key cutting-edge systems: a digital radar, weapon control system, launchers, a range of interceptors for different ranges with advanced homing devices, data-link communication and system wide connectivity.

IAI Unveiled a Passive Radar

ELTA Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries Group, unveiled this week a new Passive Coherent Location Radar System, enables the creation of an air situation using non-cooperative transmitters. It detects and tracks aerial threats based on target reflection from FM or Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) towers. The reflections are received by one or a network of antennas, providing 3D real-time tracking of multiple targets in congested airborne traffic.

The PCL system installation can include one sensor or a cluster of sensors for redundancy and improved coverage. The sites are connected to the central PCL command and control processing unit via a dedicated data link. General Manager of ELTA Intelligence, Communications and EW division, Adi Dulberg, said that the PCL system detects and classifies aerial risks, “without unveiling the locator.”

Very small footprint

Passive coherent location systems (sometimes called ‘Passive Radar’) systems are a variant of Bistatic Radar in which the reciever and the transmitter are separate. But the PCL variant does not employ any transmitter at all – it exploit ‘existing illuminators’ as their sources of radar transmission. These sources can be analogue FM radio, cellular phone base stations, digital audio broadcast (DAB) and other sources.

Passive radar systems offer several key benefits. They are hard to detect by conventional means: Electronic sensors cannot pick them up because they do not transmit their own signals. They have no transmitters generating heat, so they cannot be detected thermal signatures, and they are small and quite difficult to spot. According to Visiongain rtesearch firm, the global passive radar market is projected to grow from US$ 2,324 million in 2020 to US$ 4,313 million by 2030, at a CAGR of 6.38% between 2020 and 2030.


IAI and GECAS to convert 777 into Freighter Planes

GECAS (a GE’s company) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) plan to perform the fist conversion of the passenger plane Boeing 777-300ER to freighter. Dubbed “The Big Twin”(denoting 777 as the largest ever twin-engined freighter) the initiative is jointly funded by GECAS and IAI. According to the agreement between the two, GECAS will commit fifteen firm orders and has fifteen additional options for the 777-300ERSF.GECAS and IAI believe that The Big Twin has the capability to seamlessly replace aging 747-400 and MD11 freighters.

The 777-300ER is the most successful widebody variant in aviation history, with almost 850 sold. The 777-300ERSF STC development and prototype conversion is estimated to take over three years from the start of the program to achieving CAAI/FAA STC Approval, while subsequent aircraft will average four to five months to convert. The conversion of initial aircraft is expected to take place in Tel Aviv with further conversion lines contemplated in other locations outside of Israel from 2023.

The Program will also see IAI enter into conversion agreements for the 777-300ERSF directly with airlines as well as other lessors around the world. Entering service in 2022, the Big Twin will offer operators 25% more capacity than today’s smaller twin-engined long-haul freighters and is expected achieve up to 21% lower fuel-burn per tonne than 4-engine freighters. This new agreement marks a continuation of a twenty-plus year partnership between GECAS and IAI.

IAI’s experience in conversion programs includes the Boeing 747, 767, 737NG and the 737 Classic. IAI has completed more than 70 conversions of GECAS’ aircraft, including 747, 767 & 737 freighters. The program will also be supported by GE Aviation. The GE90 is the sole-source engine on this aircraft type and GE Aviation has worked with GECAS to create unique engine solutions dedicated to the support of freighter operators.