Israeli Army Experiments With Ground Force Drones

The drones, both for combat and logistical purposes, are proposed to be used similarly to the U.S. army

Drones in the Israeli Air Force

The Israel Defense Forces has been experimenting with the use of drones by ground forces in recent months .

The IDF Ground Forces Command chief, Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak, has said in the past that the ground forces need to be able to use drones for its purposes. Discussions are underway with the air force on the subject, mainly about the question of the altitude at which the drones would operate and whether they would replace tasks that are now carried out by the air force.

The U.S. Army currently uses drones to assist its ground forces, and the Israel Defense Forces Ground Forces Command would like to use them in a similar manner.

“There will not be a manned aircraft in the ground forces, but there will certainly be drones in the ground forces,” a senior ground forces officer told Haaretz. The officer said he could not rule out the possibility that in the future there would also be combat helicopters in the ground forces.

The ground forces conducted experiments with two types of drones, one as an unmanned combat aerial vehicle and the other for logistical purposes to deliver equipment.

The IDF already uses the Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicle, which it defines as “serving the division commander in combat.” It also uses a smaller aerial vehicle called the Skylark 1 for observation and intelligence gathering for the use of brigade commanders.

“We want to have capabilities on land to deliver supplies as well as offensive and defensive capabilities,” the officer said.

Israel has moved supplies to its fighting forces by air in the past. For example, during the Second Lebanon War the IDF parachuted supplies to troops using Hercules aircraft. But more than once, the food, ammunition and other supplies did not reach the troops and instead landed elsewhere in Lebanon.

Technological changes in recent years including civilian deliveries by drone by companies such as Amazon and Google led the army to move ahead on the matter.The ground forces now want to develop options for the automatic operation of drones the way driverless cars are now operated.