Support: Better Bunkers Beat Future Shock

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December 28, 2014: Israel is spending nearly $10 million to upgrade and expand its IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) main Air Force command bunker. Located at an airbase outside Tel Aviv the bunker is getting much improved electronics as well as more protection against chemical, biological or nuclear attacks. The older bunker had not been upgraded for over a decade and was not really up to the physical and electrical demands of new control and communications equipment. The United States has contributed some technology and covered some of the cost of the new command center. In return the U.S. gets access to some Israeli tech and details of how the new command center works in wartime.

The upgraded bunker comes at the end of eight years of big changes for the Israeli Air Force. In what began as an effort to dissuade Hezbollah from again attacking Israel with rockets like it did in 2006, the Israeli Air Force introduced new technology and weapons that enabled the air force to hit more Hezbollah targets in 24 hours than it did in 33 days (during the 34 day war with Hezbollah in 2006). This meant that for Hamas down in Gaza Israel could now hit in less than 12 hours the number of targets it took seven days to find and attack during the week-long 2008 war with Hamas. This is all part of a technological revolution the air force has been undergoing since the 1990s. Since 2006 those changed have been accelerating. All this new tech overloaded the older command center.

Israel already had some formidable intelligence collection capabilities even before 2006. Israel satellites, UAVs and manned recon aircraft to collect data that leads to the identification of enemy bases and weapons storage sites. This, for example, enabled the Israeli Air Force to quickly destroy most of the Hezbollah long range rockets in 2006 and in Gaza in 2008. The few long-range rockets that survived the 2006 strike were used, but this initial attack prevented over a hundred large rockets from hitting targets all over Israel. The Israeli Air Force demonstrated a lot of changes less than two years after the 2006 war when, in Gaza, dozens of targets taken out within three minutes by Israeli warplanes. That was an impressive example of precision bombing. But when the Israeli ground troops entered Gaza ten days later, other air force innovations were largely invisible to the public.

After the 2006 war the air force quickly made radical changes in the way it coordinated its operations with the ground forces. To do this it mobilized dozens of older (some retired) fighter pilots and used them to staff air support coordination detachments at army brigade headquarters. These officers were in turn supported by new technology and procedures that provided the air support coordination officers, and the army commanders they supported, with more real time video from UAVs and aircraft and the ability to quickly get firepower applied to target after it was identified. The objective of all this was to increase the speed and accuracy of smart bombs and missiles hitting targets the army wanted taken out. In the last few years this has meant new display technology and software that enables a commander to identify and designate a target with a few taps on a touch screen. Israel is also using cell phone size devices for this and constantly upgrading the crypto (that keeps the enemy from making sense of these communications) used. The goal now is to further streamline and speed up so ten times as many targets can be hit as was the case in 2006. Since 2008 the standardization and communications have been further improved so that you no longer need air force officers with ground units to get air support quickly.

 

 


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