An Israeli start up is developing a robotic weapons system designed to supply autonomous suppression fire for search and rescue vehicles in combat zones. Ben Gruber reports.
STORY: This is when a helicopter is most vulnerable. Flying low over a hostile zone attempting to retrieve wounded from the battlefield. Sagiv Aharon, CEO of Israeli start-up Duke Airborne Systems, says rescue helicopters are ill equipped to provide sufficient suppression fire when attempting to search, land and quickly take-off in the midst of a gunbattle. He says most rescue helicopters a equipped with a manual gun operated by a soldier - his solution is to automate the process. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAGIV AHARON, CEO OF "DUKE AIRBORNE SYSTEMS", SAYING: "There are helicopters like the Apache and other attack helicopters that their aim is an attack but I'm talking about protecting the aircraft. You need to know where the target is and fire back as quickly as possible. And that is this unique solution that we give for search and rescue helicopters." That unique solution, says Aharon, is an autonomous weapon with a panoramic targeting zone. It comprises a state-of-the-art robotic system to maximize its stability and accuracy as well as an array of sensors to accurately pinpoint potential threats. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAGIV AHARON, CEO OF "DUKE AIRBORNE SYSTEMS", SAYING: "In order to target the system quickly we use sensors that detect fire sources and launches in order to direct the system to that threat as soon as possible. That way we give an immediate response for the pilot." And that response allows the pilot to concentrate on navigating out of a danger zone. Aharon says the system can be adapted to a range of vehicles including boats, ground transports and even drones. Currently the weapon is still in development, but Aharon expects to have a working prototype within a year.