By Arie Egozi
Tel Aviv. The first of its kind aircraft ‘Oron’, acquired by the Israeli Air Force landed at the Nevatim airbase in Israel on Sunday, April 4. The aircraft’s acquisition ceremony was led by the Commanding Officer of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin. The Commanding Officer of the IAF commented: “This aircraft will vastly improve our effectiveness. The IAF’s “Nachshon” Intelligence Squadron’s acquisition of the ‘Oron’ will enable the Air Force to further enhance its operational and intelligence superiority in the face of emerging threats and security challenges. The 122nd Intelligence Squadron “Nachshon” will operate the new aircraft for real-time intelligence operations. The squadron currently operates the “Shavit” and “Eitam” aircrafts, which are also used for intelligence purposes.
The ‘Oron’ aircraft is based on the Gulfstream G550 platform, known for its excellent flight performance and low operation costs. The aircraft will be equipped with cutting edge sensors including an advanced radar system produced by IAI. This development program is led by the Directorate of Defense R&D (DDR&D) in the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMOD), in collaboration with the Israeli Air Force (IAF), the Intelligence Directorate, and the Israeli Navy. The aircraft, developed in light of IDF and IMOD lessons learned from conflicts, will also be equipped with data processing algorithms based on advanced Data Science and Artificial Intelligence capabilities; the aircraft will enable the IDF to maintain its intelligence superiority in the face of emerging challenges. These systems will enable the IDF to generate an unprecedented depth and scope of intelligence in real-time– in any weather or visibility conditions, during routine, tension, and conflict.
The Head of Military R&D in the DDR&D of the Ministry of Defense, Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, present at the Oron acquisition ceremony said, “The DDR&D has been leading the development of the ‘Oron’ mission systems for over nine years. This mission aircraft will provide the IDF with unprecedented, innovative ISR capabilities using ground breaking sensing systems – the on board radar system and a variety of sensors. These systems will stream valuable data to the intelligence units. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology will enable an efficient and automated data processing system, which will produce actionable intelligence in real time, enhancing the effectiveness of IDF operational activities.”
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is the prime contractor of the ‘Oron’ development program. Yoav Tourgeman, IAI VP and CEO of ELTA, who was also present at the ceremony said, “IAI is proud to provide the IMOD and the IDF with the most advanced ISR aircraft in the world. It will provide unprecedented information gathering capabilities above and beyond what has been available to date. This unique Israeli technology will support the IDF’s operational demands in various arenas, with an emphasis on the IAF’s highly challenging missions. IAI is the home of Israel’s Special Mission Aircraft and a world leader in this field. The ‘Oron’ has been added to the family of Strategic Special Mission Aircraft that IAI has provided the IDF over the past two decades, including the ‘Eitam’ (AEW&C) and ‘Shavit’ (SIGINT) aircraft”.
-The writer is an International Roving Correspondent of the publication.