A small Israeli robotics-optronics firm has plans to revive the classic concept of armored decoys in defense of contemporary anti-tank missile threats to maneuvering forces.
Developed and demonstrated by General Robotics with support from Israel’s Ministry of Defense (MoD), Project Hyena — named after an animal notorious for deception and thievery — infuses foldable, semi-autonomous lightweight platforms with the sounds and signatures of actual tanks and other armored vehicles in order to provoke and deceive the enemy.
The project was recently declassified and will soon be available to select export customers, said company founder Udi Gal, a retired colonel and former scientific deputy for defense research and development.
“We’re evaluating now with MoD which countries we will be permitted to cooperate,” Gal said.
In his first interview on the program that dates back to 2012, Gal said the decoys were put through numerous field tests, alongside genuine armor, to compare visual and thermal signatures. In the past year, General Robotics extended the program to test signatures in millimeter-wave.
“In the past, advanced decoys were very expensive, since they essentially had to recreate a target,” Gal said.
“But now, with new technology, advanced robotics and some other tricks that we’ve added, we can create targets that are almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing. And we can do this for a few tens of thousands of dollars; just a fraction of one percent of the cost of a main battle tank.”
Gal insists such decoys will be deployed in the future alongside armor and engineering platforms to open maneuvering routes and clear obstacles. Eventually, once operational concepts are updated and fully embraced by commanders and field soldiers, he said they will be used for more complex maneuvering missions to attract and deflect fire away from armored as well as infantry forces.
And while he recognizes the reluctance of commanders to devote attention to these new tools in the heat of battle, Gal says such smart decoys can be deployed in a way that “80 percent to 90 percent” of maneuvers can be done autonomously.
“Most of the decisions will be done automatically, but they will still need to be commanded to remain at a precise distance from the real platforms. Operational concepts will have to be adapted to take advantage of these tools … but I’m convinced these smart robotic decoys will eventually be in high demand for the enhanced survivability they provide to maneuvering forces,” he said.
Source: Defense News