The IDF puts a spark into digital warfare

The Israeli military hadn't fully thought through the need to charge drones and other tech devices in Gaza with no electricity available. Solutions have quickly been devised.

The Swords of Iron War is the IDF's first fully-fledged digital war from operating AI in tanks to guiding advanced missiles and onto operating drones in full synchronization with the maneuvers of ground forces. Just as the IDF was caught unprepared on October 7 in terms of elementary equipment like ceramic vests and helmets, the Israeli military also hadn't thought through the most basic need for operating drones in enemy territory - energy.

Immediately after the murderous attacks by Hamas of October 7, it became clear to the IDF that they would need to embark on major maneuvers in the Gaza Strip with two basic aims: rescuing all the hostages and toppling Hamas. This was clearly going to be a lengthy campaign, in which many forces - including aircraft operators would be required to remain in the heart of the Gaza Strip for dozens of days. In such a situation, the forces do not have regular access to energy for charging various devices, including means of communication that are critical for the synchronization between the many forces operating in the field.

For this important mission, immediate solutions were created for the IDF forces and provided to the electricity department of the ground forces division of the Technological and Logistics Directorate. "One of the problems is not only the equipment, but the need to charge devices," Major General Vladimir Molokandov, an electrical engineer and head of the mobility maneuver platform team in the Technological and Logistics Directorate tells "Globes." "We were required to provide solutions that did not exist until the current war broke out."

"We created a product that didn't exist

Molokandov recounts that work on the issue of energy required for a prolonged maneuver was started by the team before October 7, but at a much lower intensity. "Thanks to the early work, we had a base, and when the fighting broke out, we increased the pace to a crazy level." Despite this, in the first week of fighting in the Gaza Strip, the soldiers were faced with a lack of energy sources, and among other things, had no way to charge the drones that were used intensively during ground operations by the forces.

The IDF receives the drone as an off-the-shelf product, and it requires charging for lengthy operations. Israeli troops in Gaza did not have the option of charging the drones on the electric base of their tanks or vehicles, due to voltage differences. "Recharging restricted soldiers from operating these devices," says Molokandov, whose team created an energy pack within a week that provides a universal multi-purpose solution and allows the same charger for the drone to be used for charging as an integral part of the tank.

The energy pack that the team produced connects to the tank and conducts electricity at the relative tension to the drones battery. Through the energy pack, the time for charging has been halved compared with the regular charger. "The aim is to integrate technology, means and safety at the level of the individual fighter," explains Molokandov. "When you put 230 volt tension into an armored personnel carrier, you have to make sure that they won't be electrocuted. We created a product that didn't exist that combines a protective mechanism against electrocution and charging capacity for multiple battery charging. The electricity goes from the tank, through the unit to the batteries.

A generator from the private market with military additions

The Technological and Logistics Directorate teams have learned in the field, and realized that the solution of the energy pack they devised does help with the energy level, but since the pack is relatively large and heavy, it limits the forces in the field in terms of movement and space. Therefore, they developed a special card that decreased the solution in size and weight.

The Technological and Logistics Directorate produced special 3D-printed cables, including developing the card and serial production that within two more weeks allowed them to provide an effective electrical solution that was lighter and more compact.

Another solution required stemmed from the lack of generators for the IDF's assembly and protection areas. Because the IDF finds it difficult to produce and develop its own generators, the Technological and Logistics Directorate turned to an alternative generator found on the private market, as an off-the-shelf product, and fitted it with an individual control system that would protect the soldiers.

The product's advantage is its relative compactness, which allows it to be easily fitted onto a tank or armored personnel carrier. "It is an independent and silent unit - an alternative generator that provides a silent solution. One of the problems was that our fighters are exposed by operating a generator that creates noise. You need silence and this gives a silent solution," the Technological and Logistics Directorate explains.

A major advantage of that alternative generator, which provides a solution for about 10-14 hours of use, is that it can be charged through a dedicated connection to the armored personnel carrier, to a solar panel, or simply from the electricity grid. On the other hand, here, too, learning on the move created an understanding of the limitations of the product. It has poor waterproof capabilities, and with the onset of the winter rains, they had to prohibit its use. They then developed and produced another charging case, which is larger, but waterproof.

Pocket charger and flexible solar panels

The issue of batteries is very significant in a war. Over the past three months the Technological and Logistics Directorate has created other electrical means such as tactical pocket chargers, with which you can take a battery from another technology and convert it into two batteries with military technology. This is a technological solution that helps two unique batteries widely distributed in the IDF, and provides a solution in the field.

Another interesting solution that came from the private sector is flexible solar panels that can be rolled out until the destination is reached and then deployed in the relevant place. This is a solution at the off-the-shelf product level that can provide additional charging to devices. The cost of a solar panel in the market is around NIS 250.

IDF Technological and Logistics Directorate head of electricity Major Maliso Dasa concludes, "We see all the needs of the army, and if the technological solution has an operational contribution, then we make every effort during the fighting. We were also required for additional purposes such as a dedicated dental clinic, electrical accessories for medical examinations in the area, as well as applications that help evacuate the wounded. We pool the needs and come up with technological solutions so that the operational forces can do their job in the field."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on January 18, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

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