In June, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. Army had signed a $193 million contract to purchase Israel’s Trophy active protection system (APS). This cutting-edge system, developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, will be used to shield 261 of the U.S. Army’s M1 Abrams tanks by providing each one the capability to intercept and destroy incoming projectiles.
The recent purchase of the Trophy system is just one example, among many, of how the United States utilizes Israeli technology to protect Americans and defend the homeland. From first-responder technology to missile-defense systems, Israeli technology has helped improve the safety and security of American soldiers and citizens. Here are eight examples:
Trophy Active Protection System
Declared operational in 2009, Trophy is the world’s only fully operational and combat-proven APS. Trophy—which is currently installed on Israel’s Merkava main battle tanks—is designed to intercept incoming anti-tank missiles and other projectiles in mid-air with a shotgun-like blast.
Trophy will be provided to the U.S. Army through Rafael’s U.S. partner, Leonardo DRS, Inc., which will jointly produce the system in the United States and Israel. The U.S. company said in a statement, “Leonardo DRS is proud to be a part of this important effort to bring life-saving technology to our warfighters, and we are actively investing to ensure Trophy provides a solid, American-made foundation for the Army’s coming Vehicle Protection Suite program.”
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel developed the first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with real-time surveillance—developed by two newly-discharged IDF lieutenants, Yehuda Ointments and American-born Alvin Ellis. Ellis built a prototype UAV that evolved into the Mastiff—the first militarized UAV. Eventually, Israel sold the Mastiff to the United States. The U.S. military has routinely deployed Israeli-developed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which logged thousands of hours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In recent years, the use of Israeli robotics by the U.S. military has grown. Tel Aviv-based Roboteam, which also has a headquarters in Maryland, received a $25 million U.S. Air Force contract in 2015 and is scheduled to provide up to 250 additional micro-tactical ground robots by 2022; 200 have already been delivered to date. Furthermore, the U.S. Marine Corps have purchased Roboteam’s Probots—remote-controlled unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) that carry incapacitated soldiers or equipment into or out of combat. In 2013, Roboteam partnered with American company Stark Aerospace to sell more than 135 micro-tactical ground robots to the United States.
The U.S. Department of Defense purchased Roboteam’s Individual Robotic Intelligence Systems (IRIS) for operations in Afghanistan as well. IRIS is one of the smallest military robots developed and was designed to support military forces in locations deemed dangerous or inaccessible to humans.
Litening Targeting Pod
The Israeli-developed Litening Pod identifies targets with laser precision from high altitudes, placing the pilot in less danger, while reducing collateral damage on the ground. Sensors are used to identify ground targets and enable pilots to fly at night and in bad weather. U.S. warplanes have been equipped with this technology.
Litening made it possible for American fighter pilots in 2006 to deliver the munitions that eliminated al-Qaeda’s top leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Helmet-Mounted Display System for F-35 Fighter Jets
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded Lockheed Martin more than $100 million for the procurement of the first F-35 Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS). The system developed by Israeli defense company Elbit Systems was selected for all F-35 HMDSs. Elbit has been working closely with U.S.-based Rockwell Collins on production.
Currently produced in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Fort Worth, Texas, the helmet helps pilots to operate the F-35 jet by displaying crucial information on the visor regarding internal and external conditions during flight.
With the helmet, pilots have full situational awareness and are able to rotate the missiles’ seeker by turning their head, rather than using a hand-held gear.
Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles
In 2010, U.S. company General Dynamics was awarded two contracts, worth almost $100 million, to acquire Israeli-developed Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles. The reactive armor tiles bolt on to Bradley Fighting Vehicles and protect the troops inside from rocket-propelled grenades and other incoming munitions. The tiles explode outward on impact, protecting the soldiers inside.
This technology was used to protect U.S. armored personnel carriers in Iraq, helping to save hundreds of U.S. soldiers from potential death or injury.
The Israeli-developed Emergency Bandage (nicknamed the “Israeli bandage” by some U.S. soldiers) is now carried in every U.S. soldier’s first aid kit. It slows blood loss, prevents infection and allows non-medically trained people to stabilize some wounded individuals with relative ease.
In 2004 and 2005 alone, the U.S. Army purchased 1 million of these bandages for its troops.
After then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in 2011, the Israeli bandage helped save her life. “Without this care,” said Dr. Katherine Hiller, who was working at the hospital at the time, “it would have definitely been a different situation.”
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acquired more than 350 advanced wheelchairs developed by SoftWheel. An additional 2,000 or so U.S. veterans will receive new wheelchairs with this Israel-developed, shock-absorbing technology, as part of a three-year agreement reached with a VA-approved manufacturer of wheelchairs.
This technology has a flexible shock absorption system built into the wheel, providing a faster, smoother and more stable ride.
Founded in 2016, Israeli company Edgybees provides detailed onscreen images to drone operators, providing exceptional situational awareness. Known as Augmented Reality, or “AR,” this technology allows pilots to visualize detailed geographic information in real time. For example, street names, key personnel, car and other important assets can be highlighted to enhance and clarify an otherwise chaotic scene.
The potential uses for this technology include defense, disaster relief and emergency response. Edgybees helped U.S. first responders rescue survivors during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as well as during California wildfires in 2017.
The Way Forward
As major strategic partners, the U.S.-Israel partnership is a mutually beneficial alliance that is critical to both countries’ security.
From first-responder technology to the Litening targeting pod, a range of cutting-edge Israeli technology helps keep Americans safe. As Israel develops and perfects new technologies, America will continue to benefit from its special relationship with the Jewish state.
Type: Near-East-Report Near East Report