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11:22 AM, April 30, 2019
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Balloons carrying a make-shift drone-shaped object flying over the border with Israel east of Gaza City (image: Times of Israel)

Israel has developed a smart electro-optic sight with new capabilities to intercept moving targets such as explosive Gaza balloons and kites.

"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 sights were installed among combat soldiers in the Golan, Paratrooper, and Givati Brigades in a pilot that tested its capabilities in the field. The ministry has placed an order for more sights, but the value of the deal and volume have not been disclosed, according to a report by Global Times.

The ministry came up with this solution to tackle the problem of flying fire-carrying kites and balloons across the Gaza-Israel border that were used to set acres of fields and forests ablaze.

The IDF has deployed forces at many points along the Gazan border, and operated high-speed drones in an attempt to reduce the threat and trap the balloons and kites on their way to Israel. The drones, some of which are capable of traveling at up to 150 kilometers an hour and are highly resistant, hit hundreds of kites and balloons, thereby preventing many fires in the area around the Gaza Strip.

But the incendiary kites and balloons were launched all through the day, making it difficult for the forces to target and destroy all of them.

The new sight is based on a smart rifle sight called Pegion (dagger) developed 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 a comparitively heavier electro-optic system that makes it possible to follow a moving target in various scenarios, such as in the case of balloons and kites carrying explosives or incendiaries with accuracy. Based on the rapid mathematical calculations that it performs through computer software, it determines when the weapon on which it is mounted should shoot at the target, so that the first bullet fired at the target will strike it accurately.

Pegion is designed to hit targets at a range of hundreds of meters, with an emphasis on reducing potential damage to bystanders in urban warfare. Smart Shoot is currently developing a new and more advanced version that is believed to be lighter.

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