A tragic accident happened today. A Merkava 3D tank veered off course and fell into a ditch, which caused one round (unknown from where) to come escape its stowage and eventually catch fire. The fire was immediately extinguished by automatic systems, but nonetheless the driver was killed.
It is yet undetermined whether it happened because of inhalation of the gas, or because of the intense burning of the round.
The rest of the crew received burning injuries of varying degrees. One was lightly injured, and another two are hospitalized in a serious condition.
Israel's artillery-oriented magazine shared an interesting article by Lt Col Rafi Almagor that shares insights from the past development of the Sholef, that could be implemented in the development of the new, yet-unnamed howitzer in development.
Lt Col Rafi Almagor was one of the heads of the Sholef program.
The article is in Hebrew and translated to English by me:
1) @LoooSeR , some of these videos are reposted in Otvaga. I usually post them here first, so they also get reposted here numerous times.
2) @asaf , the THOR system is an old one that was likely only activated because it was nearby. It did not enter service in large numbers, and it's unknown whether it will continue operating for long.
3) Please don't link news articles in Hebrew. Try finding its equivalent in English, but if you don't find one then at least translate it for the others.
Since it was already posted, I will do the translation if anyone is interested:
Crusher of the Dahieh
Saturday eve, July 2014. The ground maneuver phase of Operation Protective Edge commences, and with it one of the most complex battles the Golani had seen in the last 20 years.
Notes: Dahieh is a quarter in Beirut, likely mentioned because the new howitzer has sufficient range to hit it from Israeli territory. Golani is a frontline mechanized infantry brigade.
After days of warnings, where leaflets written in Arabic were dispersed, radio and TV messages on Palestinian channels, and phone calls to civilians, and smoke shells were fired into village surroundings, began the "softening" phase for the artillery, who fired up to the first line of houses. At its end, Isaac Turgeman, commander of the 36th division gave the green light for the 4 brigades under his command to move deep into Palestinian territory.
Golani fighters made their way into the heart of the Shujaiya neighborhood in the Gaza strip to locate attack tunnels that were dug under the cover of Palestinian houses. The tunnel array was defended by the elite Shujaiya battalion of Hamas, which included 860 veteran warriors that prepared for years for an IDF ground maneuver. The "reception", some would call it a well planned ambush, included advanced AT, mortars, snipers, IEDs, and defensive tunnels dug under the houses to help the terrorists fire and vanish under the ground.
The night began with the injury of an armor officer, and the friction further increased. A Golani APC was hit and caught fire without being able to extinguish it, and 7 warriors died.
Note: It was an M113 APC that wasn't even supposed to be used there.
Later it was discovered by the high echelon that Oron Shaul's body was kidnapped using a nearby tunnel.
The Shujaiya battalion's fire intensified, and the brown brigade (Golani) paid their price.
The then-Golani-commander Rasan Elian was injured and had to evacuate, and later 3 battalion commanders, including one of the recon battalion, were injured and also had to evacuate. The command chain was shaken and disturbed, and the 36th division commander received an ever elongating list of killed and injured men. The ground forces tried to suppress the fire sources and direct aerial firepower, but stumbled upon effective "firewalls" every time they tried to get out of the line of houses to evacuate injured or to move to safer areas. The effort of the Golanis had shown acts of heroism, but was insufficient.
It was dawn. The top artillery officer commanded in those frustrating hours on the fire center in the division command center, and received from the Golani support unit commander, info on what's happening on the field and the situation of the enemy. He devised a plan that was not implemented since the 1982 Lebanon war - firing masses of artillery shells on Hamas fighters operating just 100-150 meters from the Golani troops, while heavily risking IDF soldiers as well.
The firing plan had to be based on quality and effective intel, and the division intel officer helped create a very clear picture of the enemy location. At 09:00 the artillery officer realized the brigade firing plan had to be converted to divisional firepower - and he relayed to the 3 artillery battalions of the division that they're under his command.
In parallel, a building collapses on a Golani force, and the intel officer draws on a digital map the layer of information that is required to hit concentrations of the enemy. He also assembled a rescue plan for the injured.
The artillery officer then explains to the division commander why this extraordinary action is required, and stresses "If we don't do this we won't evacuate the injured. There will be none else to help the Golani". Turgeman approves the plan but under one condition: The Golani troops will withdraw to a pre-determined line and enter the Namer APCs, a condition that was based on the assumption that these vehicles will withstand the attack despite the great security risk.
After thorough analysis and corrections, the firing plan was approved. Every battalion was asked to prepare 200 artillery shells, and fire them to the pre-determined areas. The fire rate and accuracy were critical. It was clear to everyone that some of the fire would go right above the heads of the soldiers on the ground, and some of it would be fired to just 100-150m from them - far below the pre-set safety bar.
In parallel, the artillery officer gave the air force officer an urgent firing procedure that focused on several high rise buildings.
The action was set for 10:00, amid heroic efforts by the Golani fighters to evacuate the injured under fire, but not everything went smoothly. An operational dialogue between the battalion commanders to the fire center commander, centered around the plan and focused on the fact that it has crossed the safety lines on which they trained from the very beginning. The fear that the shells - weighing 43kg - would hit the ground troops was very much real.
The dialogue was professional and to the point, and ended with the support of all commanders for this plan. "I trust you", he stressed.
Later, the artillery officer explained to the cadets of the IDF national security academy, that what gave him the great confidence to pull off this plan was understanding of the artillery profession, understanding the doctrine, his personal acquaintance with the battalion commanders' and understanding their quality, understanding their high level of professionalism, and understanding the tools (howitzers) in the batteries.
At 10:10 the command was given, and for 45 minutes 600 shells were rained on the battle zones of the Shujaiya neighborhood. The Golani fighters told "The ground shook like jelly, we've never experienced such thing". Some of the commanders yelled on the comms: "Stop the fire, it's hitting us", and the firing center had to cope with the urgent calls. Aircraft flying over the area provided a live feed of the situation to the computer screens in the Golani brigade command room, headed by Yoeli Or, and in the division fire center headed by the officer.
At 11:00 the last howitzer went quiet. The Palestinian territory was silent. Shortly afterwards, an urgent request came from Hamas, through international aid organizations, to declare a humanitarian ceasefire. The Hamas forces did not regain operational capability for the next 24 hours. Golani troops evacuated the injured and prepared anew for an attack.
The fire support of the artillerymen lasted throughout the whole 51 days of the operation, and only by the end of it, the scope of the achievement of the artillery and intel in the division was realized: 81 terrorists were killed in the attack, among them more than 10 chief Hamas commanders.
The said combat legacy - that underlines the importance of heavy statistical fire, alongside the precise guided rockets and missiles - explains clearly why the security cabinet approved last week the new howitzer for the corp. It is one of the most central projects for the ground arm for the next couple of years, and the delay in its implementation was the result of budgetary difficulties. Some of the cannons that rained fire on Shujaiya were over 40 years - an outdated system with a limited range, whose operation requires a crew of at least 10 men. The new cannon, made by Elbit, will save more than 50% of the manpower as it is semi-automatic, will greatly increase the operational range and rate of fire, and will dramatically improve the accuracy and lethality.
Every new cannon will replace an old battery, and will provide the corp with better flexibility for relocation, while its command and control systems will allow connectivity with the other corps.
In parallel, the ground arm will finalize by the end of this year a purchase of smart rounds, that will increase the quality of the existing howitzers.
Pics from article:
The artillery corps is going through, in the last years, more than just a face-lift. He's simply transforming. Aside from the howitzers, the rocket array (MLRS) that includes also a Romach battery that possesses the fire rate and capabilities to work against multiple targets simultaneously, the geolocation array, that said goodbye to the Nurit radar and accepted the Raz radar (Raz - Rav Zroyi - Multi-arm/branch, EL/M-2084). The IDF website also chose to highlight the Kelah David brigade, whose outstanding unit is the Rochev Shamaim, the one that uses small UAVs for the artillery corps.
One of the more classified units is Moran, that was established in 1982 and participated since - through using the Spike-NLOS missile - in many operational activities, including precision attacks and hunting rocket launching units.
The UAV unit of the ground arm in the artillery corp is a parallel unit to the air force's UAVs, but different in its missions, operational culture, and type of aircraft. Its primary destination is to support the ground maneuvering forces - something the chief of staff Major General Gadi Eizenkot constantly speaks of. These units, and the overall activity of the corp, leads to to one main question: Are the artillery commanders capable of turning it into the ground arm's air force?
Unlike in Operation Protective Edge, the next war will require the IDF to maneuver deeper and quicker. The threat on the forces will also be more complex, and will require complex artillery firepower: Warning fire to distance the population, deterring firepower, screening, evacuation, and hitting the centers of gravity of the enemy - command and control centers or concentrations of fighters.
Another change on which the corp's revolution is based on is the Hupat Atar system. Uploading the target to a force-wide net allows a wide range of attacking solutions - an especially critical advantage when the enemy against which the IDF deals with, hides most of the time, shows up for short periods of time, and avoids face to face combat, except for unusual raids. Hence, every second in the IDF's reaction time is critical.
The massive cuts in the reserve forces and shutting down of units did not go over this corp, and in the frame of re-organization it was decided that whoever stays in the corp will be better trained and better prepared than before. Additionally, the artillery school in Shivta was united with the reserve division - the 252nd division.