"If we had only had something like the 'Club' at Givat HaTachmoshet (Ammunition Hill), more of my friends would be alive today. But then it was barely science fiction," said J (whose identity can't be disclosed for security reasons) who brought his team together at Rafael and developed a reconnaissance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) meant to accompany infantry battalions into the battlefield and allow soldiers to see the enemy before they even know that they're there.
J (68), was a student at the Technion University in Haifa when he was called to reserve service. On June 6, 1967 he was sent along with combat elements from the Paratrooper brigade to capture Ammunition Hill in northern Jerusalem. The fight that unfolded was one of the hardest of the war resulting in the deaths of 36 paratroopers.
"My officer was wounded and I had to replace him. I was scared, but I continued in his place," said J. After the war he received a medal of valor for taking command of his company despite his lowly rank of private, and leading his comrades into Jordanian lines.
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The "Club" as the new UAV has been named (or Kestrel in English), is equipped with night and day cameras. It weighs less that 1.5 kilograms and can remain active for eight hours while observing a target, or 15 minutes when hovering. The smart UAV can send pictures to soldiers located as far as five kilometers away.
The aircraft can fly itself, guide soldiers through complex urban battlefields, and can even navigate through the inside of buildings. Batteries can be replaced in the UAV while in the field.
"Givat HaTachmoshet was like a nature reserve for Hezbollah today," said J who also won a certificate of appreciation for saving wounded soldiers under fire in the Yom Kippur War.
The new UAV reveals huge interest in competition in foreign armies. "Finally it's possible to provide ground troops intelligence on their surroundings like a pilot receives in combat," said Rafael.