Israel unveiled its new Iron Sting this week, a precision laser and GPS-guided mortar munition. The Directorate of Defense Research and Development in the Ministry of Defense, the Israel Defense Force’s Ground Forces and Elbit Systems revealed the new technology. Elbit System is one of Israel’s three leading defense giants. In the past, it has partnered with Israel’s government on new “artillery of the future” a fully-integrated artillery solution that will be smarter than systems in the past.
Iron Sting is yet one more technology to come out of Elbit and Israel’s wheelhouse of precision future weapons that are transforming the battlefield. It is described as a “networked precision fire system,” a mortar munition that uses laser and GPS to engage targets accurately and prevent collateral damage. “Trials have been conducted successfully, concluding the system’s development,” according to the Ministry of Defense
The Israeli Ground Forces command is leading the process of integrating the Iron Sting into the IDF, according to the head of the Weapons Department in the IDF’s Ground Forces, Col. Arik Avivi: “This precise guided mortar munition is groundbreaking for IDF battalions, equipping them with accurate and organic firepower. This capability has so far been reserved to large and complex missiles. Thanks to this impressive technological development, it will now be implemented in mortar munitions on a wide scale,” he said.
“The technology made available to the IDF by Israeli industries changes the battlefield and provides our forces with more accurate and effective means. The integration of ‘Iron Sting’ in the IDF, corresponds to the vision presented in the military’s Momentum multiyear plan,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Israel must face complex threats from terror armies like Hezbollah and Hamas and that means greater precision in targeting enemies hidden in a civilian urban environment. Momentum is Israel’s multiyear plan that foresees more multi-dimensional units and a new air unit for special forces as well as using more drones, air defense, networked capabilities and also the F-35 stealth fighter jet to perform its fifth-generation missions. The F-35 is key because of its capabilities to use multiple sensors. Combined with Israel’s standoff weapons, artificial intelligence in some new Israeli munitions and better surveillance, Israel’s new weapons are creating a future force that is unparalleled in the region.
The 120-millimeter mortar underwent final trials recently in southern Israel. “The completion of testing enables the start of serial production ahead of the system’s supply to the IDF,” Israel said. The tests were conducted on old M113 APCs using also what is called a “Cardom Spear” system on a Humvee. “The Iron Sting is designed to engage targets precisely, in both open terrains and urban environments, while reducing the possibility of collateral damage and preventing injury to non-combatants. Its operational use will revolutionize ground warfare and equip battalions with organic, accurate and effective firepower,” Israel’s Ministry of Defense said.
It took ten years of research according to Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, the head of Research and Development in the Directorate of Defense Research and Development. Now Rotem says this will provide the IDF’s ground forces with advanced capabilities made for the modern battlefield. “This laser and GPS- guided mortar munition provides troops with a precise firing capability that has only been implemented in missiles and air munition thus far. This is a very complex program and a groundbreaking system on the international level.”
Elbit Systems also praised the system that it has developed in partnership with the government.
General Manager of Elbit Systems Land Division, Yehuda (Udi) Vered said that “the introduction of this laser and GPS guided munition transforms the mortar system from a statistical firepower into a precision fire system, thus delivering a significant change in fire capabilities at the tactical level. We believe that we have been able to develop an efficient solution that enables to increase precision and reduce collateral damage.”
Seth J. Frantzman is a Jerusalem-based journalist who holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis and a writing fellow at Middle East Forum. He is the author of After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East (forthcoming Gefen Publishing). Follow him on Twitter at @sfrantzman.