At the 2018 AUSA annual meeting in Washington, DC, Oron Ohayon, chief technology officer of Reshet Graf on non electronic technology Identify Friend or Foe technology; Gabi Davidson, vice president of marketing at Safe Shoot on his friendly-fire avoidance system; Amit Tesler, chairman of Magam Safety on longlasting and and lightweight fuel cells; Katya Ben Yosef, chief instructor for Double Shoot, discusses the company’s smartphone app that seeds the the zeroing of weapon sights.
AUSA Annual Meeting
Vago Muradian: Welcome to the Defense and Aerospace Report. I’m Vago Muradian here at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Trade Show in Washington, DC, the number one gathering of U.S. Army leaders from around the world to discuss the service’s future, strategies, budget, technology and more. Our coverage here is sponsored by Bell, a Textron company; Elbit Systems of America; L3 Technologies; Leonardo DRS; and SAFRAN.
We’re over here in the Israeli Pavilion to talk to Oron Ohayon who is the Chief Technology Officer of Reshet Graf that is a very, very innovative Israeli company. Oran, thanks very much for the time.
Everybody is talking about identifying friend or foe, to be able to differentiate enemies from your own friendly forces, how to avoid friendly fire incidents. There are all kinds of technological systems. Blue Force Tracker is one sort of big way for big units and heavy vehicles. But the individual soldier has always been the challenge.
Talk to us a little bit about your technology which is not electronic. It’s passive, so it can’t be jammed easily. Talk to us about your technology and the role that it can play and what you guys are trying to accomplish here at AUSA.
Oron Ohayon: First of all, our company was established in 1977 in Israel. We emphasize special ink, special printing, special chemistry in the formulation of coatings, and that’s how we came up with this idea.
What we show here is a simple solution for comrade identification. We made a special material that can reflect only infrared in a specific wavelength so you can identify your friends through night vision devices.
The simplest thing about this, it’s non-chemical reaction, no electricity, so at the end of the line you get a simple means of IFOF with no dependence on chemicals, batteries, whatever, and this gives you the last one of the, when the unit is to decide whether to short or not, you can make the decision through the night vision device or thermal device and decide whether it’s a friend or a foe.
Mr. Muradian: And because of some of your technology, it’s not easily replicable, so it’s not like somebody can very easily do this and give that same kind of signature return that you’re looking at.
Mr. Ohayon: The secret about it is the chemical formulation of the coating and the special production technique. So it’s not enough that you will know the chemical. You need to know special procedure to make it. We hope for always emphasize making the next generation of the product, so we are always making it more improved, more hard to counterfeit it. So that’s why, there is no perfect solution but it’s the simplest one, and it’s based on a simple idea of visual through the night vision device.
Mr. Muradian: Exactly, and it’s already in service with the Israel Defense Force as well.
So your next-generation version of it shows optically one thing but on infrared shows another. Talk to us a little bit about the newer version.
Mr. Ohayon: The newer version, what we are trying to do is making one product into actually two different products it was before that, so you can visually have a flag or any other visual aid, but in the night, through the night vision you get the call sign embedded in it, so it’s something that is even harder to counterfeit because visually you do not know what the technology is in it, and always through the night vision devices it shows up.
Mr. Muradian: Talk to us about your customer base. You’re in service with the Israel Defense Forces. U.S. forces also use it. Talk to us about some other countries that have adopted the technology.
Mr. Ohayon: Currently we export our product to 20 countries in the world, mainly in Europe. We work with the Netherlands, with Italy, a little bit with Singapore and Japan recently. And there are many other countries that have different levels of implementation of our system, Sweden and Norway, also checking to go for the IFOF solution as it’s very simple, and cost-effective solution. It’s very easy to market inside of Army. You don’t need a high budget and electronics or very complex logistics. So that’s why it sometimes accompanies other solutions.
Mr. Muradian: Also it never runs out of batteries, either, which every soldier is going to appreciate.
Talk to us about two other things which I think are very interesting. Some of these are obviously stickers and they’re trying to transmit, but you also have invisible, clear stickers that you guys can use. Also show us that blanket about how you can use, which is a standard Israel Defense Force item.
Mr. Ohayon: What we started with was all these products are for night vision, image intensifier, but we also have a solution for thermal devices. So we have ID patches for thermal device, but we also have this panel here that is using the idea for rescue. This can be identified from two to four kilometers when using thermal device.
And something that we’ve developed recently for Secret Services and police is a transparent sticker that you can stick over a vehicle and mark it to identify it from the sky. When you use thermal device it’s hard to differentiate different vehicles. All look the same. So this is a covert means of operation, and this is a very new material that we have done recently.
Mr. Muradian: And you can identify every single vehicle in a convoy from lead to anybody else and you can like monitor it very easily.
Mr. Ohayon: Yeah. Know who is there. Also, make different marking for each vehicle. And also it’s a covert means, so that’s the main part of it.
Mr. Muradian: And of course with the blanket, you can also do Morse or signaling with it, right? Because you have a very, very powerful flashing light.
Mr. Ohayon: Techniques to do tactical signaling with it. I cannot show all the techniques, but the basic one is to make the beaconing, but there are many other simple things to do that are manually done to tactical communication, through thermal devices.
Mr. Muradian: Oron Ohayon, thanks very much. Of Reshet Graf. Really appreciate it. Fascinating technology. Thank you very much.
Mr. Ohayon: Thank you.
Mr. Muradian: Now we’re at one of the other innovative Israeli companies and that’s SafeShoot, and we’re here with Gabi Davidson who is the Vice President of Marketing with the company.
Gabi, your company is composed of combat veterans, just like many of the Israeli companies here. Talk to us a little bit about your technology. You’re developing a battlefield system that sets up almost a virtual network where you can identify and get a visible signal before you pull the trigger at much more of a tactical level so it’s not just Blue Force Tracker which is for big vehicles as we’ve discussed.
Talk to us a little bit about how your system works, and also the next generation of it where you’re taking something that’s this size, which is still not very large but then reducing it to the size of something that’s actually a little bit larger than a pack of chewing gum.
Gabi Davidson: The big challenge was to take the friendly fire issue and to go into the most vulnerable device. The most vulnerable device is the infantry, the ground, the boots on the ground. They are the ones that get hit by tank, by UAV, by attack helicopter, and it gets worse and worse as long as the technology gets found to be better. The command and control, battle management system, get a solution for the high level, for the battalion, company, division.
The soldier himself, when he’s in one window or the other window does not count, so you hit. And you can be a very high precise weapon and accurate, but yet he can hit one window when the other troop, your own troop, are in the second window. Twenty to 25 percent of the casualties made by own forces, which all of them are professional. They don’t want to do it and yet it happens. We wanted to reduce it to the level of the soldier.
So we put a simple device that gives a simple warning. You are aiming now at your own friend. We didn’t want to have a computer or complicated solution, just one red light saying you are aiming at your own friend.
The device is attached to the weapon and combined communication, GPS, compass, and various other sensors that fuse the data, shares the data with all your friends in the network, and create a mapping, create actually a network that each one is familiar in the area.
Once your device aiming toward another colleague, you get a warning. That’s what you wanted to achieve. Once we have it in the ground forces, all the rest of the ammunition and the shooting devices will have to consider it and will have to know that the ground are equipped with something that you can identify.
Then what we wanted to do later, the big damage is actually heavy weapon like tank or attack helicopters that hit and immediately 25 people get killed. Once the individual will carry this device everybody, all the rest of the players will have to consider it. That’s what we’re aiming to.
Mr. Muradian: And so the warning that you would get is a flashing series of red lights here when you —
Mr. Davidson: It’s a red light, it’s a rotating, vibration, whatever. We give actually all the family of capability and each army will define how they want it to be integrated. We can integrate our solution into existing reflect site or night vision device. Observation, target, acquisition, binocular, whatever. We want that any soldier or commander once he lifts up observation device or aiming device, he will be able to identify whether he is aiming at enemy or his own friend.
Mr. Muradian: And how are you making the smaller version? By the time you look at a picatinny rail on any weapon, you’ve got the site, you’ve got a designator, you may have a flashlight, and now you guys even have acknowledged this might be a little bit too large and you’re looking for a much smaller version. What’s the trick to making it smaller but still as effective?
Mr. Davidson: We split the actual hunting device which is unified, one single unit, to two. One is aiming device which will attach to the weapon or will get into the site; and the brain of the system that contains the communication, GPS, and the rest of the stuff, that can be attached to the vest, somewhere in his gear. So we don’t care where it is. We want to make a minimal device, obstacle, on the weapon itself.
Mr. Muradian: And you guys are already thinking about the challenge of frequency hopping and electromagnetic jamming and a difficult electronic warfare environment. What are some of the things you guys are thinking about to try to achieve this where you might not be able to communicate as easily as you would like.
Mr. Davidson: First of all, I believe that we are the smallest player in the arena. Everything that we rely on — communications, GPS, [inaudible]. The Army, we realize that the Army will find a solution for this. We will give them the capability and then they will direct us how to be part of this game. We cannot lead all the technology, but we’ll be part of the modern battlefield and our forces or the other forces will give us direction.
Mr. Muradian: Gabi Davidson, VP of Marketing for SafeShoot, absolutely brilliant idea. It’s fascinating to see, to be able to do it and to get that visual cue or an auditory cue before you pull the trigger on one of your own comrades. Gabi, thanks very much. Best of luck on the [inaudible].
How long before you guys have something that’s going to be in the hands of the Israel Army or another force around the world?
Mr. Davidson: The civilian application will go to the market within two or three months.
Mr. Muradian: And that’s for hunters, too.
Mr. Davidson: That’s for hunters, the technology is the same. All the rest will be modification and it depends. We know that the military and the different forces work slowly. We hope that within few months we will start the trials and we hope that in a very short time in the military, I cannot tell you, but I hope that within a year or two we’ll be fielded many places.
Mr. Muradian: That will be fantastic, and I think there are a lot of hunters who are going to breathe a sigh of relief when they have this.
Gabi, thanks very much. Best of luck.
Mr. Davidson: Thank you very much.
Mr. Muradian: We’re continuing our tour of the Israeli companies here at the Israel Pavilion at AUSA, and we’re here at Magam Safety, a company that predates the birth of Israel with retired Israel Army Colonel Amit Tesler who is the Chairman of Magam Safety. Sir, it’s a pleasure meeting you.
Amit Tesler: Pleasure meeting you.
Mr. Muradian: You guys make what seemingly are not high tech products that are very, very high tech products. Anybody who knows about fuel cell technology or especially soft skin fuel cells knows the challenge of making a material that doesn’t degrade and then clog up your own fuel system.
Talk to us a little bit about your product line and how you guys have managed to make a product that lasts 25 years when exposed to fuels, which is quite a challenge.
Mr. Tesler: This product is developed after 40 years of development since Merkava Mark I was in the area, for Merkava Mark I. The rubber actually developed as part of collecting of experience from 40-50 years before with vehicles, the problems and how to bring the solution with that.
We are talking about a flexible fuel tank that lasts more than 25 years. We did after 25 years a survey to check how these fuel tanks are surviving after use of 25 years and storage of 25 years, and actually, they were like in day one.
The unique part of this solution is it’s not just a bladder. It’s a fuel cell that has fire retardant material inside. It doesn’t have a residual effect. It is lighter, helps to reduce weight from the vehicle, and it lives forever almost.
The second part of this solution is our self-sealing solution. We developed a self-sealing rubber, and I’m holding a part of a fuel tank that’s been actually coated with our rubber sheets and you can see here a shot of 762 only, just for an example, and it was sealed 100 percent after one millisecond. It means that you don’t have even one drop going out from the fuel tank.
The unique solution that we are offering is that you can use it on our bladders, you can use it on your existing fuel tanks, you can use it on plastic for a vehicle or aluminum or any kind of material can be coated with those sheets and get the self-sealing capability.
Mr. Muradian: This is for an unmanned aircraft application, right? Where you can custom tailor this to fit any sort of unusual space as you find sometimes. Not just in combat vehicles but in almost any application. I was going to joke that I want one of these made for my car, but anyway, we digress.
Talk to me a little bit about, you said that you have this applique system. During the recent Gaza operation, you had an urgent requirement from the Israel Army. Tell us a little bit about what you guys managed to accomplish there with a very, very large fuel tank.
Mr. Tesler: In the last campaign, Protective Edge in Gaza, on the first night of the campaign the Army decided that they want to leave all the vehicles inside Gaza instead of taking them out, back and forth, for refueling. And the problem was that we don’t have in the IDF any protective refueling station. So they brought us a 5,000-liter fuel tank, 1250-gallon fuel tank for Merkava. We coated with our sheets and gave it the capability of self-sealing, and this one was after 24 hours in Gaza, and for the next 53 days there. Luckily nobody shot on it but it was protected from 50 cal and used all over the campaign. And after the campaign, we took it and shot on it, instead of in the game, but it worked very well, and we did even 20 cal for that just to be sure that it’s working, and it did.
Mr. Muradian: Fantastic. Amit Tesler, Chairman of Magam Safety. Thanks very very much. I appreciate it, sir. Best of luck, and we look forward to seeing you someday in Israel.
Mr. Tesler: Hopefully very soon.
Mr. Muradian: Thanks again.
Mr. Muradian: We’re continuing our coverage here at the Israeli Pavilion at AUSA and we’re over here at the Double Shoot stand to talk to Katya Ben Yosef who is the Chief Instructor of the company, and it sounds like it’s a really, really cool title. You’re a lieutenant in IDF, Israel Defense Force Reserve. And you know how to shoot, so that helps.
But it’s absolutely a fascinating and brilliant system you guys have which is an app-based way of sighting your weapon. So walk us through how this works, because you would drastically reduce a process that can take as much as an hour for a weapon now for a student, and reduce it to actually a couple of minutes each. So show us how your system does what it does.
Katya Ben Yosef: Basically it’s a really simple system. As you can see, it’s a camera like every camera on every smartphone. What you need to do is to pick your weapon, on your own profile of course. You pick your weapon, you pick your sight, and of course your target. Everything is adjustable, everything can be added or reduced as applies once.
Mr. Muradian: So you can do 25-meter range or you can do 50 or you can do 100 if you need to.
Ms. Ben Yosef: Yeah. We’re adjustable to any kind of range, any kind of sight, any kind of weapon.
Mr. Muradian: And also atmospheric condition you can dial in as well.
Ms. Ben Yosef: Yes. The system has a very delicate picture processing algorithm, so it’s flexible and it takes out sun, shadow, everything.
Mr. Muradian: So show us now how you — once you select all that stuff, what’s next?
Ms. Ben Yosef: After I fix my own profile I look at the target before I start shooting and I take the picture of the target. Very simple, very fast.
Mr. Muradian: And also, you don’t have to be excessively precise, right? You don’t have to necessarily put the pipper on the center of the target, you can just take a picture of the target.
Ms. Ben Yosef: Correct. Because of the delicate picture processing algorithm, you don’t have to be super precise. The algorithm will do everything by its own.
So as you can see, we continue to the first session. We go back, we take some shots, we return. And as you can see, this is, for example, our first session. You can see the hit over there.
What I do now is take another picture. This is calculating. As you can see, it recognizes my hits. The green dots are the hits. The yellow dot is the average spot. And the purple dot is where I’m supposed to hit when I’m zeroed.
Next, I’m going to do the sight adjustment. It’s offered me to see what adjustments I need. And this is the big highlight, this is the big time saver.
As you can see, in just one second it tells me how many clicks I need to move up, down, left, right. It also tells me the grouping size. It feeds back the shooter and tells him if he got better or worse from his last, previous session.
Mr. Muradian: And that’s right, because you can then feed this into a database, so whether it’s on the platoon, the company, regiment, battalion, division, you can actually have very, very accurate marks on how people are shooting, what their groupings are, so that you can help students learn better.
Ms. Ben Yosef: Exactly. All of this data goes to our web which is restricted, of course. And the platoon commander can see what is the situation of the soldiers. Who shoots better, who shoots worse, who needs guidance, who hasn’t shot his weapon or rifle in a couple of months or weeks. This gives us a lot of information about our manpower which I don’t know if anyone has it so accurate. This is new. This is so simple and so comfortable to use.
Mr. Muradian: It really is amazing. And so what are the keys to being a good shot.
Ms. Ben Yosef: What are the keys to being a good shot? Precise, accurate, which is pretty much the same. And believe in Double Shoot. Saves lots of time.
Mr. Muradian: Wow. Boom. You landed it. Katya Ben Yosef, thanks very much. Chief Instructor here at Double Shoot. A real pleasure seeing you. Absolutely fascinating technology.
How soon is this going to be available, by the way?
Ms. Ben Yosef: Well, it’s available already now for bigger organizations like the Army and Homeland Security. The civil version will be out around January 19. You can find it in the app store. You can follow our website to see further updates, and that’s it.
Mr. Muradian: All right. Fantastic. Best of luck with the product. Thank you so much.
Ms. Ben Yosef: Thank you.