TEL AVIV — Israel's Elbit Systems has launched a new division aimed at riding what executives here say is the next big wave to hit the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) market: the ability to traverse space and time.
By mating myriad ISTAR sensors and unmanned systems with new instant replay-like intelligence, Elbit Systems says users can scour wide areas, immediately zoom in with soda straw-like focus while simultaneously going back in time to hunt for changes and anomalies initially overlooked.
"It's no less important to know what's happening in real time as it is to know what happened in the past; to know how to search for anomalies and to have the ability to respond in a relevant manner to threats you might have missed," said Elad Aharonson, Elbit executive vice president and general manager of the new ISTAR division.
"At the same time, you need to hold and monitor increasingly wide areas — many dozens of square kilometers — while having the ability to instantly transition to a very high-resolution, soda straw field of view.
"And all this, ideally, should be done without straining inventory or human resources. ... We're talking about one unmanned platform doing the job of many," Aharonson said.
Established April 19, Elbit's new ISTAR division incorporates the firm's Electro-optics Elop subsidiary, its unmanned systems sector and the communications intelligence (Comint) and signals intelligence (Sigint) capabilities provided by Elisra, a company it acquired nearly 10 years ago.
In parallel, the new division will draw generously from command, control and other capabilities developed and produced in other corporate sectors.
"Elbit has been very strong for many years in the global UAV and ISR market. Now our mandate is to augment these strengths by concentrating all of the activities of Elbit in the ISR domain,"Aharonson said.
"And since we're not interested in creating redundancies, we're going to stream the information processing and connectivity aspect that has so successfully served our Ground Systems Division into this new, integrative, full-service ISTAR division."
In an April 23 interview, Aharonson said he could not cite the name or discuss technical details of the Israeli security restrictions prevented him from providing the name or technical details of the time and space traversing intelligence system.
"It's a breakthrough operational solution related to wide area aerial persistent surveillance, where we lead here in Israel and in the world," said the Elbit executive.
"But we're developing the concept further through the connection of a large spectrum of sensors, information processing, command-and-control systems and the unmanned delivery vehicles that carry these payloads," Aharonson added.
Defense sources and industry executives said the system was first demonstrated in Israel's November 2012 Pillar of Defense operation in Gaza; and part of the system's capabilities are deployed has since been deployed at Israel's northern borders with Syria and Lebanon.
A military officer here described it as providing multitudes of "high-quality soda straws" of surveillance imagery with "a type of cognitive capability… that significantly enhances the [capabilities of] young female observers we count on to monitor our borders."
A ground-based version, known as GroundEye, was deployed last year by Brazil, first in Salvador da Bahia in March 2014 to help authorities monitor the millions attending the weeklong carnival event and later in July for the World Cup.
"The successful demonstration of GroundEye attests to our ability to develop ISR solutions for civil applications … and positions us as leaders in this growing field," Elbit President and CEO Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis said in a March 2014 statement.
In that earlier statement, Elbit said the system creates a video archive of ongoing and past missions and retains memory "both in the area and time dimensions" to respond rapidly to forensic intelligence needs.
"In contrast to current surveillance systems, which typically provide a single user with a single video stream covering a limited area, GroundEye allows several simultaneous users to independently probe any region of interest anywhere in the sector. … Multiple events can now be simultaneously dealt with in real time, or, if missed in real time, as soon as an operator is available," noted the Elbit statement.