Israel’s Newest Military “Secret Weapons”—An Armed Reconnaissance Robot and a Fleet of Battle Taxis

Updated: Jun 20

At the Eurosatory defense expo in Paris this week, Israel’s Defense Ministry unveiled the M-RCV—a medium-sized, unmanned, robotic combat vehicle that can shoot a machine gun, launch missiles and deploy drones. The M-RCV will be used to conduct “forward reconnaissance missions”—rather than sending soldiers—into hostile and unknown situations.

In addition to the M-RCV’s (Medium Robotic Combat Vehicle) impressive weapons capabilities and “cutting-edge technologies,” the vehicle can also carry heavy payloads and can maneuver an array of terrains. The vehicle is the result of a joint project between several Israeli defense companies.

“The M-RCV’s capabilities include a highly autonomous solution for forward reconnaissance, and controlled lethality in all-terrain conditions. It is operational during the day and night in all-weather scenarios, while emphasizing operational effectiveness, simplicity, minimum operator intervention, and integration into heterogeneous unmanned arrays,” a Defense Ministry statement said.

The military plans to start testing the vehicle in 2023 in “representative scenarios.” Israel joins the US, Russia, and Britain in utilizing robotic vehicles in their military efforts. A country of less than 10 million people is competing with world powers. The IDF is already using a Jaguar (another robotic vehicle) to patrol the border with the Gaza Strip.

And the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Tuesday that it will soon deliver the first new Eitan armored personnel carrier (APC) to the troops. APCs are like “battle taxis”—they are used to get troops to wherever the action is in the battle. While APCs have fortifications, they are not the same as a combat tank.

The Eitan came off the assembly line at the military’s Tel HaShomer base over the weekend and was set to be delivered to the IDF’s Nahal infantry brigade soon, according to an IDF statement. The eight-wheeled Eitan APC has one million parts(!), 20 tons of steel, and over 3.5 miles of power and communication cable. It is operated by three soldiers and can carry another nine. Unlike previous “battle taxis” in Israel’s fleet, the Eitan doesn’t need to be transported on a carrier vehicle—it has wheels (instead of tracks, like a tank), so it can travel on highways and in urban settings and reach speeds up to 56 mph.

The Eitan APC has been in development since 2016 in response partly to lessons learned from the 2014 Gaza war, where seven soldiers died in an older model APC—the M113—after Hamas fired a missile at the vehicle. My daughter Danielle was actually on the line with those soldiers, as the commander was giving them intelligence when the line went dead. Later, she discovered they were all tragically killed. After the incident, dozens of IDF reservists told their commanders they refused to ride into Gaza in Vietnam-era M113.

New types of warfare demand new technology—and so the Eitan will begin replacing the M113s, providing soldiers with more security and mobility in combat situations.

In addition to a lot of steel, it has air conditioning! I have always said that I will never be transferred to battle without A/C! But more than A/C, the Eitan has the Iron Fist to defend them from incoming missiles. The Iron Fist uses sensors and radar to provide troops with 360-degree protection from incoming anti-tank missiles—regardless of whether the danger is at close range or in an urban setting (which is often the case in Gaza with Hamas). The system will launch countermeasures and take out the threat. The Eitan is also equipped with plenty of firepower—a 0.50-caliber heavy machine gun and a 30-mm cannon.

Brigadier-General Guy Paglin, head of the Tank and APC Directorate, said over time, the Eitan will be incorporated into other units, becoming a key asset for the IDF.

“The development of new weapons allows us to replace old and less advanced technologies, thus promising that our soldiers are equipped with the best, most advanced defense equipment for all combat scenarios.”

(Photo courtesy of Israel Defense Ministry)

Ron Cantor

CEO of Tikkun Global

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