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Future Combat Vehicle of IDF Unveiled

By Arie Egozi

The Israeli Ministry of Defence has unveiled the three systems offered by the Israeli Defence Industries for the Carmel future combat vehicle to be deployed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

The three proposals are being evaluated now in the field on Israel’s Eitan and Namer APC’s and on the Merkava 4 MBT. “In the future we may see fleets of manned and unmanned ground vehicles equipped with the systems and sensors that we are now evaluating”.

The development of the systems that will turn each combat vehicle into a real “war machine” has reached a stage where all the components have been developed and now the integration will be made on different types of combat vehicles.

The operational integrations will include the “cockpit” systems that have been developed and additional weapon systems like the Rafael “spike” anti-tank missiles and the company’s automatic weapon stations.

The Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), in the Israel Ministry of Defense, and the Office of the Head of the Armored Corps in the IDF, completed a demo event to reveal the platforms developed within the framework of the Carmel Program.

The program does not produce a new vehicle, but rather a breakthrough vision for combat, based on advanced technology. The program focuses on autonomous and automatic maneuvering, artificial intelligence and more.

The demonstration of the developed technologies was held on August 4 in the presence of the Ministry of Defense Director General, IDF Deputy Chief of General Staff, Commander of the Ground Forces, Head of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development in IMOD, and senior officials from the IDF and defense establishment.

The Carmel Program was launched three years ago as a multi-year program for the development of advanced technology to upgrade the IDF’s combat vehicles – producing an agile, effective, innovative, compact, easy-to-maneuver vehicle with relatively low costs. The purpose of the program was to develop the technology necessary for the “combat field of the future,” maintaining operational superiority via technological superiority.

During the first phase of the Carmel Program, a significant challenge was presented to the three major defense industries in Israel: to prove the feasibility of an AFV that is operated by only two combat soldiers, with a closed hatch. Following a lengthy evaluation process, the Ministry of Defense selected three Israeli defense industries to continue the development program: Rafael, IAI, and Elbit Systems.

Each industry was asked to develop its own technological concept that would transform and upgrade the interior part of the IDF’s combat vehicles to an advanced cockpit (much like a fighter jet’s cockpit). The challenge: proving the feasibility of two soldiers conducting closed hatch operations and integrating technological capabilities that would enhance mission efficiency for the IDF’s maneuvering forces.

The proposed suits made by the three companies have been installed on M-113 APC’s that are used for demonstration.

The advanced cockpit integrates autonomous capabilities (maneuvering, detecting targets, defense, etc.). In addition, the combat soldier enjoys multi-sensor fusion and 360-degree surround vision, high connectivity, and situational awareness. Ultimately, the soldiers are only required to make decisions that the mechanism cannot (yet) make by itself. 

The industries took the challenge head on, employing experts in the field and introducing advanced technological infrastructure in the process. Each industry tested its solution throughout a period of a week, within a series of complex operational scenarios. A team of experts from the DDR&D evaluated the three concepts in accordance with predetermined criteria. The technological platforms proposed for the future AFV, employ a combination of advanced sensors, VR and AR mechanisms, AI technology to process information, and more.

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