TEL AVIV Ñ The Israel Air Force has developed a radar to protect its
aircraft against collisions with birds.
Officials said the radar developed was originally designed to help in
weather forecasts. They said the radar was configured to track birds and
warn pilots against take-offs.
The radar was one of several measures employed by the service to prevent
collisions with birds. Officials said the greatest danger was that a bird
would become sucked into an aircraft engine, which could result in a loss of
control by the pilot.
Israel is on the route of migrating birds from Europe and Asia.
Officials said nine military aircraft crashed since 1974 because of
accidents with birds, particularly hawks. Three pilots were killed during
"In the last few years, accidents have decreased by 67 percent," Yossi
Leshem, an expert on birds who has consulted with the air force, said. "The
birds continue to fly, but the aircraft have learned to avoid these areas."
Officials said the radar was of Soviet origin and deployed at a facility
in Latrun, west of Jerusalem. The radar has supplied data to air force bases
and pilots of approaching bird migrations.
The radar was developed by a Russian immigrant scientist, Leonid
Milevich, who arrived in Israel in 1991. Officials said Milevich, a former
Russian general, was responsible for 47 weather radars in the former Soviet
Union and led a project in Israel to convert the weather radar to one that
The Latrun radar was said to provide new data online to pilots and air
force bases every 15 minutes. The Defense Ministry, in a project that
included Milevich and other Russian immigrant scientists, also converted the
radar into a digital system.
Leshem said a collision between a six-kilogram hawk with a fighter-jet,
at a speed of 1,000 kilometers per hour, would result in a crash with a
force of 50 tons. He said the air force has sustained 75 accidents that have
resulted in $500,000 in damage.
Another measure used by the air force was to use dogs to clear runways
of birds. Officials said the three major air force bases have been supplied
with dogs to scare off the birds.
The air force has been aided in a project that included the Science
Ministry, Tel Aviv University and the Society for the Protection of Nature.
The Defense Ministry has established a fund that spent $660 million on
research in the migration of birds since 1984. The service discussed the
danger from birds during a conference on July 7.