Friendly fire avoidance system spreads to combat air platforms
A system intended to avoid ‘blue-on-blue’ incidents among ground forces is now being extended to personnel operating combat helicopters and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).
SafeShoot, the Israeli company that developed the Green Shield system, was reluctant to say if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are evaluating it, but sources told Shephard that Israeli infantry units are trained to work in close cooperation with helicopters and ‘that may indicate an operational need’ for technology to prevent friendly fire.
The need for such a system on combat air platforms is clear, according to Brig Gen (res) Amir Nadan, CEO of SafeShoot and a former high-ranking officer in the IDF Paratroopers Brigade.
‘Combined operations between ground forces, combat helicopters and armed UAVs and drones make such a system a must,’ he explained to Shephard, especially for operations in congested urban areas.
A manoeuvring IDF ground force, especially in urban areas, is almost always supported by an air component such as combat helicopters, UAVs or UCAVs. ‘This is the scenario with almost every ground operation,’ said Nadan.
Brig Gen (res) Miki Bar, formerly head of rotary-wing operations in the Israeli Air Force, noted the real risk of a combat helicopter mistakenly shooting friendly forces, with many armies (including the IDF) having experienced ‘blue-on-blue’ incidents in the past.
‘The problem is more acute in urban warfare when forces are entangled in heavily populated areas,’ he explained.
Green Shield uses sensor fusion to measure the position and weapon direction of all connected devices. A dynamic wireless network enables the exchange of data between all Green Shield devices.
Participants in a mission are equipped with a Green Shield device. Upon taking aim, the system immediately and automatically alerts shooters when there is a high risk of friendly fire, thus preventing a potentially disastrous outcome.
‘The problem is more acute in urban warfare when forces are entangled in heavily populated areas.'— Brig Gen (res) Miki Bar, former head of helicopter operations, Israeli Air Force
‘By eliminating the need to hesitate when making shoot/don’t shoot decisions, the SafeShoot solution that can bring the final decision directly to the shooter offers greater freedom of operation, continuity of operations and operational effectiveness while preventing friendly fire,’ Nadan argued.
He explained that the system measures the relative position and altitude of the user, as well as the direction of the barrel or the aim point of the weapon system (missiles, in the case of a combat helicopter).
Using a dynamic meshed network, data is exchanged between nearby units, and when a high risk of a friendly fire accident is detected, the system will automatically and autonomously alert the shooters.
Green Shield is a lightweight, modular, self-contained and battery-operated system. The device does not require line of sight to function, and it can be operated during daylight, darkness, adverse weather and under battlefield conditions.
The system for soldiers has two parts: a weapon-mounted component weighing 50g and a part weighing 200g that is carried inside the combat vest.
Nadan added that Green Shield installed on a helicopter weighs 42g, and on a combat helicopter it is ‘not much heavier’.
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