Israel can now spot, destroy roadside bombs from air

Thursday, June 10, 2004

TEL AVIV Israel's military has succeeded in detecting and neutralizing improvised explosive devices from the air.

Israeli officials said the Israel Defense Forces have combined air and ground forces to detect IEDs during military operations in the Gaza Strip.

They said the military used unmanned air vehicles and helicopters to locate and neutralize bombs during the invasion of the southern Gaza Strip in May.

The method was used during Operation Rainbow, the incursion into Rafah in which the military searched for insurgents and weapons smuggling tunnels.

Palestinian insurgents fought Israeli troops with light arms, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and mines, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Israeli military used a combination of air platforms to locate and destroy the IEDs. Officials said the Searcher unmanned air vehicle detected the bombs placed in alleyways and streets in Rafah. When the IEDs were located, the Israel Air Force summoned an Apache AH-64A attack helicopter to fire a missile to destroy the bombs.

[On late Tuesday, an Israeli Apache AH-64A attack helicopter fired missiles toward what a military spokesman said was a Hamas facility in Gaza City that produced Kassam-class short-range missiles. Israeli military sources said the missile strike was in response to the Hamas firing of Kassam missiles toward Israel.]

The military released a video that showed Palestinian insurgents planting dozens of explosive charges in residential areas of Rafah during the Israeli invasion. The video showed a UAV spotting one IED and directing an attack helicopter to destroy the bomb.

In the video, released on June 6, the Apache was seen firing a single missile, which contained submunitions. The missile destroyed several IEDs.

The video also showed UAVs tracking insurgents with RPGs.

In one part of the video, the UAV detected insurgents who had planted an IED and concealed it with a sheet of plastic. The UAV then helped guide the Apache, which destroyed the bomb.

Officials said that during these operations the UAV and the helicopter were in constant communication. The air platforms were also linked to ground-based systems and tactical computers used by infantry and armored commanders in Rafah.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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