Rafael CEO Outlines Network Developments
Israeli defense specialist Rafael (Chalet A194, Static A33) is exhibiting a range of the company’s products and solutions at Paris, including the new Spice 250 weapon and a wide range of air defense missiles and control systems. Although it is well known for its missiles and electro-optical sensors, Rafael is involved in the creation of complex systems that bring increasing effectiveness, efficiency and economy to the defense arena.
Rafael has long experience in the air defense world. “We deal with the full hemisphere of air defense,” stated Rafael president and CEO, Vice Admiral (Ret.) Yedidia Yaari. “It’s about intercepting flying objects of all kinds.” The company’s Iron Dome short-range air defense and counter rockets and mortars (C-RAM) system has been operational for Israeli homeland defense since April 2011, and it has been called into action many times, principally to intercept rockets fired from Gaza. Experience from more than two years of operations is being continually fed into ongoing system development, a process that is also applied to other systems, such as the Spyder being displayed here.
“We have improved the systems for the customers,” said Yaari, speaking to AIN before the show. “We won’t stop. We will continuously improve and change. It’s an ongoing process of getting better and better. There is a very healthy process of evolution for the systems.”
In terms of supporting offensive operations Rafael is increasingly focused on sensor-to-shooter and situational awareness technologies. The company’s efforts are concentrated on what Yaari described as “squeezing the cause and effect chain more into real time so that it is no longer a serial process.”
Rafael is busy providing the full suite of means to turn this into reality, from the network itself to the sensors to the shooters. Such networks imply a high degree of automation to reduce workload and maximize operator effectiveness. All decisions need to be made in real time through the network, but it “has to have a man in the loop,” asserted Yaari.
“It’s not easy to network,” he continued. “There’s a multitude of protocols, communications and channels, and the system needs to be wideband to carry all this data. We are working intensively on fusion to create a universal picture from various types of situation awareness.”
The aim is to position different observers, with their different requirements, into one geo-system that provides a mainly visual output. “It’s run by visual awareness rather than anything else,” remarked Yaari. “Each observer has to recognize what they see. The system makes them aware of only what is relevant to them. Of course, everything in the real world is moving, but it needs to be frozen at the right moment in time to give the necessary situational awareness.”
Building such a system requires layers of hardware and software that are self-healing, and self-forming into networks on the go. “Once you have fixed the rules of the system, and once it is anchored in geo-space, then it creates its own universe.”
A challenge facing modern warfighters and armed forces is the increasing amount of data that is available, rendering it virtually impossible for operators to sieve out the useful information. The sheer amount of data causes its own problems. “Any connected system can be consumed by over-data,” asserted Yaari. “One direction we are taking is to look at controlling the data stream itself rather than creating huge data analysis centers. It is easy to saturate a system at one end. We are looking at reducing the outflow of data by creating smaller chunks of essential data before you compress the data stream. We cut it into small elements. If you can reduce bandwidth, then more players can be active.”
Rafael already has this kind of system running in an operational environment. The solutions are generic and can be applied to many tasks and missions. “There are no technological limits to the size of network,” said Yaari. “It’s a matter of generating the right manner of dialog between partners.”