The worst nightmare of every commander leading troops into battle and every combat soldier is a deadly mistake in identification in the heat of battle, leading them to aim their weapons at their comrades and shoot. All of the world's armies have a bloody history of what is referred to as "friendly fire."
This is not unavoidable, but on the battlefield, when deadly fire from several directions is directed against a maneuvering force, a great many mistakes can occur. Life and death decisions are taken in seconds, forces split up, attempts are made to prevent injury to non-combatants, there is confusion, and orders are issued on the communications network. There is an atmosphere of general uncertainty, chaos, and perplexity, and situations in which soldiers open fire against their own comrades are not rare.
In a few months, Israeli startup SafeShoot is expected to complete the development of a system that purports to significantly reduce, if not completely eliminate, cases of friendly fire. When you hear the entrepreneur leading the company and its development plan, cofounder and CEO Brigadier General (res.) Amir Nadan, you wonder why a country that invented and developed the Iron Dome and Arrow missile systems did not think of this earlier. "It's a small system that in the case of infantry is attached to the soldiers' personal weapon," he says. "The system constantly communicates with other systems installed on the personal weapons of soldiers from the same force. Before a soldier shoots at a target he has aimed at, the system 'asks' other systems whether one of them is in the line of fire. If the system detects a situation of future shooting by our forces at our forces, it warns the soldier about to shoot, thereby preventing an incident no one wants to happen."
SafeShoot's engineers plan to provide soldiers in the field with several opportunities to obtain a warning that they are at risk of shooting at targets they should not be aiming at, and do not want to aim at. In one of the system's versions, such a warning will be delivered in the shape of a flashing red light visible to the soldier warning him against a mistake in spotting the target. In another more logical and feasible version, given the battle conditions in which the combatants seek to dig in as much as possible in order to avoid exposure to the enemy, the warning comes in the form of a vibration: either a soldier's rifle vibrates, just like a mobile phone vibrates, or a ring on one of the soldier's fingers vibrates, telling him that he is definitely aiming in the wrong direction. Another possibility is a warning spoken by a human voice.
The IDF is interested
SafeShoot is both the name of the new system and the name of the company that is developing it, and which plans to provide a line of products in this area and market it to a series of Western armies, including the IDF, the US Army, and NATO forces. Some of the products will be adapted for combat pilots, who are liable to mistakenly bombard concentrations of friendly forces, instead of enemy tanks. According to Nadan, who was exposed to the need for such a system during his lengthy military service in the Paratroopers Brigade as commander of Battalion 2002 and IDF Brigade 769 (Hiram), the IDF is keeping track of developments in this area, is involved in them, and is very interested.
Investors are also interested in this intriguing development. The two main investors in Nadan's startup are businessman and Automotive Equipment Group chairman Zvi Neta and Team-3 Group subsidiary Team 3 Venture. "I have no doubt that SafeShoot's systems will be an integral part of the future battlefield," Team 3 Group owner and CEO Nir Gilboa told "Globes." "In recent years, the battlefield has become more and more urban and dense, and therefore more complicated and dangerous for fighting. This fact is causing an increase in cases of soldiers being killed by friendly fire, and the new system is the solution for dealing with situations of this type."
Gilboa believes that within a few years, this system will be in universal use, with no combat soldier or commander going into battle without it. "In the past, only elite combat units had an advanced optical sight on their personal weapons; now everyone has one. In my opinion, they should also have the SafeShoot system, which will become the standard and be installed on every personal weapon," he declares.
According to Nadan, his company will have a finished product ready for operational activity under various battle formats within a year. "In addition to preventing unnecessary injuries, it will increase the operational effectiveness of cover fire for maneuvering forces, bolster the confidence of soldiers and commanders in air and land support forces, and provide them with freedom of action, while reducing the safety restrictions in operational activity and training," he explains.
In addition to military forces, SafeShoot is also marketing its product to hunters, mainly in the US and European countries. For former US VP Dick Cheney, who shot and wounded a fellow hunter by mistake a decade ago, the system comes a decade too late.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 21, 2016
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