Israel's army takes modern warfare to new robotic levels

When it comes to Modern Warfare, militaries understand that combat is more than just a game. 

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t significant crossover between the worlds of tech and global conflict, with a multitude of armies rushing to develop artificial intelligence and mechanical muscle to fight their battles for them.

Bulldozing its way forward in terms of military tech mogulism is Israel, which has thought of everything from robotic soldiers, to self-detonating grenades, un-manned aircraft, tunnel patrollers and the (ironically) dubbed “thinking bullets”. 

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reports that after a grueling 60 years of constant conflict, Israel has managed to fashion itself into a leading nation when it comes to military robotics, second perhaps only to Japan and the USA.

The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) – along with the country’s leading weapons manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems – has worked long and hard to ensure that future battles will be fought with having to deploy a single soldier in the line of fire. 

Although the IDF is primarily focused on miniaturisation and accuracy, it has also made massive strides in broadband technologies to enable seamless communcation between robotic and human fighters.

And in a vision more Star Wars than sand wars, Israel has upped the ante on laser tech by helping its soldiers mark distant targets using GPS guided rockets. 

“We are moving into the robotic era,” Rafael’s vice president told the WSJ

No kidding. 

According to Israeli Ha’aretz hack Ora Cohen, the Jewish state is currently designing unmanned reconissance helicopters that will fly over and report suspicious activity to specialized drones. The UAVs will then photograph the sector and send the images back to soldiers in forward operating bases. 

In addition, Israel is also said to be shunting shekels into the shrinking of spy satellites, hoping to soon have them reach the size of a falafel.

Combine that with computerised rockets, unmanned patrol vehicles to prevent border infiltration, remote-controlled bulldozers and a six-wheeled, heavy-lifting robot named Rex, and you have the makings for a science fiction film extraordinaire.

But while the prospect of fully computerised combat may sound cool to some, it will likely require a fundamental paradigm shift in traditional attitudes towards the waging of war. 

As the WSJ notes, with the potential for one side to minimise its human losses, the psychological deterrent of flag draped coffins certainly loses its strength and the decision to attack may become that much easier to make.  The mechanical finger on the automated trigger may become that much easier to pull, so to speak.

But perhaps – as is currently the case with nuclear weapons – more power will result in heightened responsibility, and the futility of pitting machine against machine will render warfare a waste of time and valuable resources.

One can only hope.