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IDF issuing soldiers with military smartphones

14 December 2017
The IDF intends to issue the new smartphones to all its ground combat units. Source: Israel Defense Forces

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has begun issuing its first smartphone devices to ground forces, a senior officer from the Technological Research and Mission Support Division (LOTEM) said on 12 December.

Colonel Avi Duek, head of the Systems and Project Department, said the introduction of encrypted, ruggedised Motorola smartphones that will enable combat soldiers and officers to share intelligence data, including photographs and video.

The IDF awarded a USD100 million contract to Motorola to develop the device, which comes with a 5-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera. It has a broadband connection and will use IDF and civilian communications infrastructure.

Col Duek said the phone is the first of its kind in the world and that significant planning has been invested to prevent intelligence from leaking or being hacked from the network even if a device falls into enemy hands.

Not every soldier will receive the device, but “all levels of field units” will, he added.

The phone comes with software that is similar to the WhatsApp chat application that enables information to be exchanged between communities. “It will create a more transparent dialogue,” Col Duek said. “We expect this to create a cultural change in the way forces manage themselves.”

The devices will also help soldiers establish their own locations, as well as those of friendly and hostile forces.

LOTEM has also developed a version of the YouTube video-sharing website, allowing soldiers to access the live feed from thousands of military sensors. This will enable soldiers to receive the live feed from unmanned aerial vehicles flying overhead or medics to show injuries to expert doctors based far from the frontlines.

“The goal is to deliver the images with a minimum delay and make them available to everyone,” Col Duek said. “We get visuals from all three branches [of the IDF].

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