For the first time, a missile has been fired from a remote-controlled, unmanned ship during an exercise, the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems contractor announced Tuesday.
The missiles were fired by a new version of Rafael’s “Protector” series of unmanned ships, which had only previously been capable of small arms fire.
The unmanned ship fired Spike missiles, a Rafael-made guided missile. They reportedly struck all of the simulated targets successfully during the tests.
The tests were carried out off the coast of Askhelon by the Navy’s 916th Squadron, which operates off the Gaza coast.
The Israel Defense Forces currently has a small fleet of “Protector” ships, which are used to complement its manned patrol boats around Israel’s coastal waters.
This version of the “Protector” model is referred to by the Israel Navy as the “Sea Knight.”
Some of the navy’s unmanned ships come equipped with machine guns and water cannons, which are controlled remotely, either from the shore or from nearby ships, in some cases.
“The firing test demonstrates Protector’s side array of capabilities and applications,” said Moshe Elazar, head of Rafael’s Land and Naval Systems Division.
The Israel Navy, which once focused almost solely on protecting Israeli shores, has recently been charged with defending the country’s natural gas rigs as well, which demands more resources and new tactics.
According to Rafael, the new missile-firing version of the unmanned ship can help on that front as well.
“These assets are vulnerable to sabotage or terrorism, and the damage that can be inflicted can in some cases be catastrophic. Protector’s capabilities are a major force multiplier for navies, for detection, deterrence and finally neutralization of the threat,” Elazar said.