Protector unmanned boat
Protector unmanned boatIsrael news photo: screenshot from Rafael

Israel will use unmanned drones to protect Israel’s newly discovered gas fields and is studying high-tech methods to stop future illegal flotillas.

The Navy wants to be able to stop ships from breaking the country’s counterterrorist maritime blockade on Hamas-controlled Gaza but without a repeat of last year’s clash on the high seas, in which Turkish-based terror activists kidnapped and serious wounded three commandos before the Naval soldiers were able to overtake the Mavi Marmara ship. Nine Turks were killed in the battle.

The Defense Ministry has asked companies to come up with solutions other than using explosives or having to board illegal boats, according to Israel Defense.

Several ideas have been studied and rejected, and others still are being investigated to allow blocking a ship without physically intercepting it.

Remote control already is being introduced to protect oil and gas rigs off Israel’s Mediterranean Coast, Globes reported. The equipment is a prime target for terrorists, particularly Hizbullah, which has claimed the energy fields belong to Lebanon. It has vowed to use all means necessary to protect what it calls Lebanese’s property.

Unmanned naval patrol ”Protector” vehicles are being purchased from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.  The Protector boat, the first of its kind in the world, is equipped with a firing system as well as advanced radar systems that can transmit warnings of suspicious objects near the rigs.

"Automatic weapon systems can be installed on the deck of the ship that are activated from a remote location, for example a control station on the coast,” according to Moshe Elazar, director of Rafael’s naval warfare systems.

He added, “A water cannon system can also be installed on the ship to deal with hostile parties that approach the sensitive installation by boat.”

The Air Force’s unmanned drones also will help protect the rigs with advanced identification and detection systems that track unusual behavior.