Israel is developing a new "smart" glide bomb, a weapon that had its origins as far as back as World War I. It is likely to wind up in the Israel armory for operations against Palestinian militants and Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas.
The weapon, designated the Medium Laser-Guided Bomb, is still in the early stages of development by the state-run Israel Aerospace Industries, flagship of Israel's defense industry.
The bomb, on display for the first time at the recent Paris Air Show, was described as a "precision weapon for precision attacks or close air support against various types of targets such as buildings, small bunkers, time-critical targets and moving targets," offering "pinpoint accuracy for all-weather conditions" as well as trajectory control."
Glide bombs are aerodynamically configured to flatten and extend their normal flight trajectory and can be controlled from the launch aircraft for pinpoint attacks.
The Israeli air force frequently targets militants while they are moving around in vehicles. The weapons employed in such cases range from air-to-ground missiles fired from F-16 strike aircraft or helicopter gunships.
Other targets that might be suitable for the glide bomb are makeshift factories manufacturing homemade Qassam rockets used by Hamas to fire into Israel.
The militants are extending the range and firepower of these projectiles launched from Gaza to the point where they may soon target urban areas around Tel Aviv in central Israel.
The glide bomb is said to carry a 36-pound warhead and appears to be about the same size as the U.S. GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb.
The German Luftwaffe held flight trials with a German precision-guided Hope standoff penetrator glide bomb.
The results remain closely guarded, but Aviation Week reported on Sept. 25, 2008, that the weapon, using a GPS guidance system aided by an inertial navigation system, hit its targets precisely.
The bomb was launched from a Luftwaffe Tornado IDS strike aircraft at the flight test center at Vidsel in Sweden.
During World War I, Wilhelm von Siemens proposed a "torpedo glider" -- a wire-guided missile that was basically a naval torpedo with an airframe attached -- but the conflict ended before it could be developed.
But during World War II, the Germans introduced the first operational glider bombs, primarily as anti-shipping weapons as von Siemens had envisaged. These were radio-controlled weapons designated Ruhrstahl SD 1400 and generally known as Fritz-X.
On Nov. 26, 1943, the British troopship Rohna was sunk by one of these weapons as it carried U.S. troops from Oran, Morocco, to Port Said, Egypt, in an allied convoy traversing the Mediterranean.
The bomb ripped a huge hole in the ship's port side and set the vessel on fire. It sank and 1,235 soldiers and crewmen perished. The attack with this mysterious weapon was hushed up for many years, but it inflicted the highest U.S. death toll of any ship sunk in World War II.
After the war, the Americans developed the glide bomb, adding sophisticated electronics. These evolved in the 1960s into the U.S. Air Force's AGM-62 Walleye and later the AGM-65 Maverick.
MOSCOW, July 10 (RIA Novosti) - Israel has ordered at least 25 U.S. F-35 stealth fighter aircraft to counter any potential threat from the delivery of Russian advanced air defense systems to Iran and Syria, an Israeli daily said on Friday.
Tel Aviv earlier said that the purchase of F-35 fighters would effectively eliminate the threat from Russian-made S-300 air defense systems because a series of computer simulations had clearly demonstrated that new U.S. stealth fighters outperform the Russian missiles.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), manufactured by Lockheed Martin, "will be one of the most-advanced fighter jets in the world and will enable Israel to phase out some of its older F-15 and F-16 models," the Jerusalem Post said.
The paper said an official Letter of Request (LOR) to the Pentagon was sent this week, but talks on a final price for the plane, estimated at over $100 million, and technical details of the deal would continue.
"Israeli demands have focused on three issues - the integration of Israeli-made electronic warfare systems into the plane, the integration of Israeli communication systems and the ability to independently maintain the plane in the event of a technical or structural problem," it said.
The contract is expected to be signed in early 2010 followed by the delivery of the first F-35 fighters to Israel in 2014.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israeli Air Force plans to purchase an additional 50 aircraft in the future, some of them with vertical take-off and landing capabilities.
Meanwhile, Israel has intensified its efforts to prevent deliveries of Russian S-300 air defense systems to Iran under a 2007 contract.
Israel and the U.S. insist that the delivery of advanced air defense systems to Iran would undermine the military balance in the region, and Russia has until recently delayed the implementation of the deal.
Although Russian sources said in March that Iran had not yet received any S-300 air defense systems and the deal needed approval from the Russian leadership, Moscow has reiterated its commitment to fulfill the contract, which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The latest version of the S-300 family is the S-300PMU2 Favorit, which has a range of up to 195 kilometers (about 120 miles) and can intercept aircraft and ballistic missiles at altitudes from 10 meters to 27 kilometers.
It is considered one of the world's most effective all-altitude regional air defense systems, comparable in performance to the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot system.
Britain imposes partial arms embargo on Israel: Report
Updated on Monday, July 13, 2009, 13:05 IST
Jerusalem: The British Foreign Office has imposed a partial arms embargo on Israel over the Gaza war, refusing to supply replacement parts for Navy gunships used in the offensive, a newspaper reported.
The "Foreign Office informed Israel's embassy in London of the sanctions a few days ago," the Haaretz newspaper said, adding that the embassy attributed the move to pressure from human rights groups and MPs.
The move came after the government reviewed all 182 licences for arms exports to Israel and ultimately decided to cancel five, which cover spare parts for Saar 4.5 missile boats, Haaretz said.
By participating in the Gaza war, the boats "violated the security agreements between Britain and Israel, which specify what uses may be made of British equipment," Haaretz quoted the directive as saying.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman brushed off the sanctions, telling public radio, "We've had many embargoes in the past... We can manage. This shouldn't bother us."
Israel launched its devastating three-week war on Gaza in December 2008. More than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
IDF soldier: We used Gazans as human shields
by Amos Harel
Tuesday Jul 14th, 2009 6:32 PM
The Israel Defense Forces used Palestinians as human shields during Operation Cast Lead last January despite a 2005 High Court ruling outlawing the practice, a Golani brigade soldier says. He says he did not see Palestinians being used as human shields but was told by his commanders that this occurred.
The soldier says his unit employed a variation of the practice, the so-called "neighbor procedure," when it checked homes for Palestinian militants.
The soldier's testimony appears in a collection of accounts being published this week by Breaking the Silence, an organization that collects IDF soldiers' testimony on human rights abuses by the military. The Golani soldier gave similar testimony in a meeting with a Haaretz reporter.
The IDF Spokesman's Office, for its part, says that "the IDF regrets the fact that a human rights organization would again present to the country and the world a report containing anonymous, generalized testimony without checking the details or their reliability, and without giving the IDF, as a matter of minimal fairness, the opportunity to check the matters and respond to them before publication."
The soldier's allegations relate to IDF conduct during fighting in the eastern part of Gaza City. The soldier, a staff sergeant, says that in his unit and others, Palestinians were often sent into houses to determine if there was anyone inside.
"The practice was not to call it 'the neighbor procedure.' Instead it was called 'Johnny,'" the soldier said, using IDF slang for Palestinian civilians. The IDF employed this practice extensively during the second intifada, before it was outlawed by the High Court of Justice in 2005.
At every home, the soldier said, if there were armed occupants, the house was besieged, with the goal of getting the militants out of the building alive. The soldier said he was present at several such operations.
In an incident his commanders told him about, three armed militants were in a house. Attack helicopters were brought in. "They ... again sent the [Palestinian] neighbor in. At first he said that nothing had happened [to the armed men]," the soldier said.
"Again they brought in attack helicopters and fired. They again sent in the neighbor. He said there were two dead and one still alive. They then brought in a bulldozer and began to knock the house down on him until [the neighbor] entered." The soldier said he had been told that the only militant remaining alive was captured and turned over to the Shin Bet security service.
The Golani soldier also testified that his commanders reported incidents in which Palestinians were given sledgehammers to break through walls to let the army enter through the side of houses. The army feared that the doors were booby-trapped.
The soldier added, however, that although the unit commander justified the use of the so-called Johnny procedure, the commander said he was not aware that sledgehammers had been given to civilians or that weapons were pointed at civilians. The commander said the allegations would be looked into.
The soldier said he had heard of other instances in which Palestinian civilians were used as human shields. One time, for example, a Palestinian was put at the front of an IDF force with a gun pointed at him from behind. But the soldier said he had not seen this himself.
The IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement that on initial consideration, a few of the allegations appear to be similar to allegations published several months ago after a lecture by officers to cadets at a pre-military academy.
"Now, too," the spokesman said, "a considerable portion of the testimony is based on rumors and secondhand accounts. Most of the incidents relate to anonymous testimony lacking in identifying details, and accordingly it is not possible to check the allegations on an individual basis in a way that would enable an investigation, confirmation or refutation."
The spokesman said the Breaking the Silence report suggests that the organization might not be interested in a reliable comprehensive examination of the allegations, "and to our regret this is not the first time the organization has taken this course of action. The IDF is obligated to examine every well-founded complaint it receives."
The spokesman also noted that allegations by Breaking the Silence containing specifics would be investigated.
"The IDF expects that every soldier and commander who suspects there was a witness to a violation of orders or procedures, and especially with respect to violations causing injury to noncombatants, will bring all of the details to the attention of authorized parties," the spokesman said.
Jerusalem: Israeli army gave its soldiers in the Gaza war the license to kill with the commanders issuing instructions to "shoot first and worry later", an activist group, made up of veteran troops, charged in a report on Wednesday.
The testimony of 30 soldiers shows that the army's goal was to minimize its own casualties to ensure Israeli public support for the offensive and that they did not bother much on sorting out civilians from the combatants, Breaking the Silence (BTS), releasing print and video testimonies of soldiers, said in the report.
"Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy," is the way an unidentified soldier presented his understanding of instructions repeated at pre-invasion briefings and during the 22-day operation in December-January.
"If you're not sure, kill. Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad," another said adding, "The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places. In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents."
"We did not get instructions to shoot at anything that moved," says a third soldier, "but we were generally instructed: if you feel threatened, shoot. They kept repeating to us that this is war and in war opening fire is not restricted."
The 112-page scathing report by the activist group includes testimonies of 30 soldiers "who served in all sectors of the operation".
"The majority... are still serving in their regular military units and turned to us in deep distress at the moral deterioration of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces)," it says.
Their testimonies bring into question the credibility of the official IDF versions, the BTS says.
The army in its response said that on initial consideration, a few of the allegations appear to be similar to allegations published several months ago after a lecture by officers to cadets at a pre-military academy.
"Now, too, a considerable portion of the testimony is based on rumors and secondhand accounts. Most of the incidents relate to anonymous testimony lacking in identifying details, and accordingly it is not possible to check the allegations on an individual basis in a way that would enable an investigation, confirmation or refutation," an army spokesman said.
"The BTS report suggests that the organization might not be interested in a reliable comprehensive examination of the allegations, and to our regret this is not the first time the organization has taken this course of action. The IDF is obligated to examine every well-founded complaint it receives," he said.
The army said that it would investigate the specific allegations leveled by the activist group.
"The IDF expects that every soldier and commander who suspects there was a witness to a violation of orders or procedures, and especially with respect to violations causing injury to non-combatants, will bring all of the details to the attention of authorized parties," the spokesman said.
Except for a sergeant named Amir, the soldiers are anonymous and their faces digitally blurred in the video testimonies.
2009-07-15 12:07:21 GMT2009-07-15 20:07:21 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
JERUSALEM, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that criticism on the operations of Israel Defense Force (IDF) was inappropriate, on response to a new released report accusing IDF of behaving without constraint in Gaza offensive.
"Criticism directed at the IDF by one group or another is inappropriate, and misdirected," the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post quoted Barak as saying.
"The IDF is one of the most ethical armies in the world, and acts according to the highest moral code," Barak said, "Any criticism of IDF operations should be directed to me, as the Israeli defense minister."
The activist group Breaking the Silence revealed 54 testimonies of Israeli combat soldiers Wednesday, indicating that IDF soldiers acted immorally in the Operation Cast Lead half a year ago, including using Palestinians as human shields and shooting without seeing enemies.
The Breaking the Silence's report is the latest in a series of reports critical of Israel's Gaza offensive.
The Israeli army was claimed before of attacks at United Nations facilities, medical personnel and buildings, uninvolved civilians and civilian infrastructure and of the use of weaponry containing phosphorus during the 22-day military operation.
But IDF said in April that internal probes found its troops did not violate international laws during the warfare in the Gaza Strip.
Jerusalem: The US ignored its close ally Israel's request for its nod to attack Iran's nuclear facilities during the peak of the opposition movement against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election.Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida quoted a US diplomatic source based in Jerusalem as saying that after the opposition riots broke out in Iran following June's Presidential Elections, Israel asked Obama administration to give green light to strike Tehran's nuclear facilities and other vital installations, news portal Ynetnews reported.
Washington ignored the Israeli request that was reportedly sent by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with President Shimon Peres' signature on it as well.
Israel was serious about its intentions to attack Iran and hit it hard, but the US' lack of response to the request left Israel frustrated and the operation was called off, the source said.
The diplomatic source also reportedly said that the White House's decision to withdraw its recognition of Ahmadinejad's re-election came due to pressures from Israel and other moderate states.
"We were under Israel and Arab pressure to take back our recognition of him", the source was quoted as saying.
"There are moderate Arab countries that do not want us to recognise Ahmadinejad," he added. Meanwhile, a newly disclosed US Congressional document says that the State Department intelligence analysts continue to believe that Iran will be unable to produce weapons-grade uranium before 2013, the Washington Post reported yesterday.
The assessment, made by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, emphasised that its analysis was based on Iran's technical capability and was not an opinion about "when Iran might make any political decision" to produce the highly enriched uranium it needs to manufacture a bomb.
Israel considers Tehran's nuclear programme an existential threat and many a times officials here have hinted at possible military strike to foil the Islamic Republics nuclear ambitions.
Iran claims that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
TEL AVIV, Israel, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Israel-based Aeronautics Defense Systems will build two additional demonstrators for the unmanned version of the two-engine, propeller-driven Diamond DA42 for the U.S. market, according to Flight Global.
The company's president, Avi Leumi, was quoted as saying that the decision followed a first string of test flights in July.
"We will resume the test flights in September," Leumi said. But at the same time, he added, "we will prepare a marketing effort to potential customers, mainly in the USA."
In July, the prototype of the Aeronautics Dominator-2 "Oz" unmanned air vehicle flew for the first time, according to Flight Global.
The Israeli firm had converted the DA42 into a UAV powered by two Thielert diesel engines. It can be equipped with a variety of payloads.
The Dominator-2 is built to carry a payload of 400 kilograms for 28 hours, with a line-of-sight range of 300 kilometers.
Developed in less than a year by the Yavne-based Israeli firm, the Dominator is a light commercial aircraft converted into a strategic, multi-mission UAV.
With a wingspan of 13.5 meters, it is designed to fly up to 190 knots per hour at altitudes of up to 30,000 feet.
"We are very careful to work within the limitations of MTCR (the Missile Technology Control Regime)," said Itay Sherman, director for marketing and communications. "This way, the Dominator we are able to offer high performance on a proven, existing airframe to as many customers as a possible around the world."
Sherman said the size, quality and endurance of the system "is designed from the outset to operate safely and in coordination with civil aviation authorities on a full spectrum of missions."
He estimated that over the next decade, the Dominator could generate "sums of $1 billion and above."
Leumi said the UAV was an important addition to the company's swelling portfolio of UAVs, which now span the spectrum of tactical support to long-endurance, strategic missions, according to Defense News.
In recent weeks the company has also unveiled another non-flying prototype based on a commercial helicopter by Dynali SA Helicopters of Belgium. Called Picador, the prototype is aimed at the ground and maritime defense market, Sherman said.