IDF Develops Interceptor for Incendiary Balloons

A fire at a field in Nahal Oz caused by kites flown by Palestinians, near the border with the Gaza Strip. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The IDF has developed an answer to the incendiary balloons launched by Gaza terrorists in past months which have caused extensive damage to agricultural lands in southern Israel.

A new sighting device for assault weapons will enable soldiers to shoot down small, fast-moving aerial threats of the kind that has plagued the Gaza periphery communities.

“We have attained the ability to intercept kites, and we also have very good capabilities for the threat of incendiary balloons. We have several interception methods, some in the very basic development stages, others already for immediate use in accordance with the operational field needs of the Gaza division,” said Col. Nadav Livne, the commander of the Israeli army’s Matmon unit, dedicated to technology R&D for IDF ground forces.

The new technology is based on a smart rifle sight called Pegion (dagger) produced by a company named Smart Shooter from Kibbutz Yagur in cooperation with the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure in the Ministry of Defense.

The Pegion sight is an electro-optic system utilizing rapid mathematical calculations made by its computer software, determining when the weapon on which it is mounted should shoot at the target, so that the first bullet fired will strike it accurately.

The system has a range of hundreds of yards, and is designed for minimum risk to bystanders in an urban warfare setting.

The military hopes that Pegion will be an improvement on the tactic in use until now, using high-speed drones to bring down the Gaza incendiaries. The drones reportedly neutralized hundreds of kites and balloons before they could do harm in Israeli territory. But the new weapon should do even better.

However, Livne cautioned, “There is no hermetic solution. There is always a learning competition between us and the enemy that includes assessment of the capabilities [of] the other side, which is sophisticated, and learns quickly. Our job is to bring relevant technology as a solution.”