Weapons & Gear Modernization

Overview


Since the 1990's the IDF has undergone several waves of modernization impacting its infantry's weapons and gear. In the IDF, new gear is often introduced as follows – limited issue to SF units, gradual and informal trickling down to conventional infantry units, and finally, if successful, a formal mass procurement and issue. While perpetual a work in progress, these modernization waves increased the IDF infantry lethality and survivability, closed the gear gaps between the IDF regular and SF units, as well as between IDF SF and foreign SF units.

 

1997-2001


The IDF continuous involvement in South Lebanon from the mid 1980’s until 2000 served as a painful and constant reminder that its infantry capabilities were lacking. To address this gap, the IDF conducted a long due upgrade of its infantry weapon and gear, much of it focused on sniping and sharpshooting capabilities:

Handguns

  • Glock 17/19 - entered service in Israel in 1996, when the Glock 19C won the Israeli General Security Service contract for a new sidearm for its agents and VIP Protection personnel. Soon afterwards YAMAM switched from the Law Enforcement units' standard issue handgun - Jericho - to the Glock. In the late 1990's the Glock 17/19 also entered service with IDF SF units, gradually replacing the Sig P226/P228, which were the IDF SF standard issue handguns at the time. In recent years, Glock has also been replacing the Jericho at Police and Border Guards SF units.

IDF Counter Terror School instructors during training. Standing operator armed with a SOG pentagon knife, a Glock 19 and a M4 Commando fitted with a Israeli stock, a forward grip, a pistol grip and an EOTech sight. Kneeling operator armed with a Glock 19 and a M4 Commando fitted with a Trijicon ACOG 4x32, a stock and a pistol grip.

 

Assault Rifles

  • Colt M4A1from late 1990's to 2001 hundreds of M4 and M4A1 were procured and issued exclusively to SF units. Shortly afterwards, in 2002, the IDF began mass procurement of the M4A1, and it became the IDF standard infantry assault rifle for all regular and special forces..

  • Designated Marksman - the original platform was based on a M16A2-E3 fitted with a Trijicon ACOG 4x32, an Aquila X4, a cheek piece and a bipod. The platform was also adapted to the CAR15, and later to the M4A1.

PALSAR Golani operator posing with a M4A1 fitted with a Trijicon ACOG 4x32, a bipod, a stock, a forward grip, a flashlight and a "Smiley" compensator.

 

Sniper Weapon Systems

  • Remington M24 – Replaced the M14 as the IDF standard issue SWS in 1997.

IDF SF reserve sniper full gear seen here prior to deployment in the Territories. Visible are a camouflaged CAR15 fitted with a Meprolight Mepro 21 and a flashlight, camouflaged M24 and a camouflaged Litton Aquila X6 for the M24. Also visible are 5.56mm magazines for the CAR15 and 7.62mm rounds for the M24, medical supply and other tactical gear.

  • Barrett M82A1 - sporadic 82A1 samples entered service in the early 1990's and were issued primarily to YAHALOM for remote EOD work. In 1995-1996 the M82A1 was issued to IDF SF and shortly afterwards, in 1997, entered service with infantry units as a company level anti material weapon. In recent years the 82A1 has been gradually phased out of service. In some SF units, the M82A1 was replaced by the more accurate McMillan TAC-0.5 and PGM Hecate II, which can provide both long range anti-material and anti-personnel capabilities.

M82A1 operator during deployment in the Territories. Note a M4A1 fitted with an Elbit Falcon (right).

  • Mauser 86SR - In 1996 the Mauser 86SR entered service with the IDF SF replacing the Mauser 66SP as the IDF SF standard issue bolt action SWS for close-medium range CT applications. In recent years, the Mauser 86SR has been largely replaced by the SR25. Few disbanded 86SR were converted by IDF SF armorers and modeled after the PGM Précision Ultima Ratio design, including a lightweight skeleton type chassis and an integrated suppressor.

Left - YAMAS sniper armed with a standard Mauser 86SR fitted with a Litton Aquila X6 during deployment in the Territories; right - YAMAS sniper armed with a modified 86SR during training.

  • KAC SR25 - after limited usage by IDF SF units since the late 1990's, in 2001 the SR25 was officially adopted by the IDF as its standard issue semi-auto SWS for all SF units, replacing various sniping platforms as the Galil Sniper Rifle, Sardius M36/TCI M89SR and eventually even the recently introduced Mauser 86SR.

PALSAR Golani sniper armed with a SR25 during deployment in the Territories.

 

Light Machine Guns

  • IWI Negev - in 1997 the Negev was adopted by the IDF as its standard issue LMG, replacing the FN MAG (as a man-portable weapon) as well as the FN Minimi and the Soviet RPD and PK which were in limited usage by SF units at the time. The Negev short barrel version - the Negev Commando - is hthe most commonly variant used with SF units.

 

Optics

  • Red Dot Sights - in addition to the Trijicon Reflex which was issued exclusively to SF units, Elbit Falcon was issued to all infantry units. The Elbit Falcon was later disbanded and replaced by more modern red dot sights, such as Meprolight Mepro 21 and ITL MARS, as well as by EOTech sights in Tier 1 units.

YAMAS operators during training. Top operator is armed with a Colt Commando fitted a Trijicon Reflex. Bottom operator is armed with a CAR15/M203 combo fitted with a Elbit Falcon.

  • NVD - in the past, weapon mounted NVD limitedly used and issued primarily to SF snipers. However, in 1997 all infantry snipers and Designated Marksman were issued NVD, dramatically increasing their nighttime capabilities. Snipers were issued with the Aquila X6, while Designated Marksmen were issued with the Aquila X4, which has since been largely replaced by the Noga Light Lior X3.

IDF SF M4A1 Designated Marksman system fitted with a Lior X3, a bipod, a forward grip, a stock, a forward grip, a flashlight and a "Smiley" compensator.

 

Gear

  • Supporting sniping gear - In the past, sniping accessories such as spotting scopes, laser rangefinders and weather meters were issued primarily to SF snipers. However, in recent years this gear has also been issued to regular infantry units.

An H-S Precision Pro Series 2000 HTR (“Barak”) fitted with a day optic and an OSTI AN/PVS-27 seen here on an IDF display. Seen on the background are the platform's standard issue accessories – an ITL Cobra rangefinder, a Tripod Data Systems (TDS) PDA loaded with a ballistic software and a Kestrel pocket weather meter.

  • Camouflage gear - Since the late 1990's focus has been placed on camouflage, including the introduction of camouflage suits and Ghillie suits.

PALSAR T’zanhanim sniper wearing an IDF camouflage suit and armed with a camouflaged M24 during training. Note a compensator.

 

2007-2011


The 2006 Lebanon War demonstrated again that the IDF infantry was under-equipped and under-trained, resulting in expedited procurement and issue of advanced gear. The 2008 Gaza War further accelerated this process and much of the new gear saw its first time deployment during that conflict.

Assault Rifles

  • IWI Tavor - the Tavor CTAR began its IDF mass issue with infantry brigades in the mid 2000's. First with Givati in 2006, followed by the Golani in 2008 and finally with NAHAL in 2011. - In 2009, the IDF decided that the Micro Tavor will be the standard issue weapon of all infantry units going forward. - The Tavor was by adopted by several SF units to date, including PALSAR Givati, PALSAR Golani, Egoz, Rimon and YAHALOM. - The Micro Tavor is issued in three variants: Standard (13" barrel), Designated Marksman (15" barrel) and Grenade Launcher (with M203).

From top to bottom: Micro Tavor / M203 combo fitted with a Meprolight GLS203 and a Meprolight Mepro 21; Designated Marksman Micro Tavor fitted with a Trijicon ACOG 4x32 and a forward grip/bipod combo; Standard Micro Tavor fitted with a Meprolight Mepro 21.

 

Sniper Weapon Systems

  • Large Caliber - following a successful yet limited usage of various large caliber SWS by SF units for almost two decades, in 2008 the IDF introduced the H-S Precision Pro Series 2000 chambered for the 0.338 Lapua Magnum caliber. Known in the IDF simply as Barak, the weapon is the IDF first standard large caliber SWS. In addition to the Barak, other 0.5" and 0.338" caliber platforms in limited usage are McMillan and PGM Précision.

Shimon Peres checking out a camouflaged suppressed PGM Précision Ultima Ratio mounted on a Lone Star Field SPEC-REST tripod during a visit to the YAMAM. Note a camouflaged PGM Précision PGM338 in the background (photo: MAGAV).

 

Light Machine Guns

  • IWI Negev - in the 15 years since its adoption by the IDF, the Negev gained reputation as an unreliable weapon, often suffering from stoppage and other malfunctions. The platform has therefore undergone multiple improvements and refinements in the past decade. The Negev Commando, which in the past was issued exclusively to SF units, has also seen limited issue to regular infantry units. Finally, LMG mounted optics (either magnifying or red dot) are gradually becoming common in the IDF especially as latest Negev and MAG variants feature integrated rail systems.

IDF SF Negev Commando fitted with rail systems and an ITL AIM1/D.

 

Grenade Launchers

  • General Dynamics MK47 – the IDF has been testing the MK47 as a replacement to the bulkier General Dynamics MK19 since 2005 but only recently in 2010 it entered service with SF units.

 

Gear

  • Insight lasers pointers – while ITL was the dominant and essentially the exclusive provider of laser pointers to the IDF throughout the 1980's and 1990's, from the early 2000's Insight laser pointers has become very popular. The first Insight model to enter IDF service was the HHP, a handheld laser pointer, which replaced the ITL LPL-30/Z. The HHP was followed by the mass issue of the Insight AN/PEQ-14 to SF units. The AN/PEQ-2 and its successor - the AN/PEQ-15 - are also in limited usage by Tier 1 units.

Shimon Peres visiting YAMAM. All operators are armed with M4 Commando fitted with EoTech, AN/PEQ-15 and flashlights (photo: MAGAV).

  • RAFAEL MATADOR - first issued to IDF SF units in early 2008 as a learning from the 2006 Lebanon War, in the end of 2008 the MATADOR was also issued to regular infantry units, to be deployed during the Gaza War.

YAHALOM operator fires a RAFAEL MATADOR during deployment in the Gaza War, 2008. The operator is also armed with handgun a in a thigh holster (photo: IDF).

  • RAFAEL Simon – the Simon first entered service in the IDF in the early 1990’s, and exclusively used by Tier 1 SF units. However, operational lessons from the 2006 Lebanon War, increased focus on breaching in the IDF and the 2008 Gaza War led to a broader issue within the IDF SF community and eventually to regular infantry units.

YAMAM operator demonstrating firing the Simon. The operator is armed with a M4 fitted with a rubber but stock, an Aimpoint and a rail system, as well as a Glock seen in one of vest's empty magazine pouches. Also note: Oakley protective eyewear and helmet mounted flashlight.

  • ODF Optronics EyeBall R1 – first issued in early 2000's to Tier 1 SF units, operational lessons from the 2006 Lebanon War and the 2008 Gaza War led to a broader issue within the IDF SF community and eventually to regular infantry units. The increased threat from underground tunnels in Israel's North and South fronts also led to increased usage of the EyeBall R1 for tunnel clearing.

IDF ODF Optronics EyeBall R1 (photo: IDF).

  • Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) - in addition to large frame UGV used mostly for EOD, in recent years the IDF saw an increase in the usage of compact man-portable UGV, such as the iRobot PackBot and ODF Optronics EyeDrive, for CQB applications. Other small frame UGV are used for tunnels clearin. While UGV are mostly used by YAHALOM, they are gradually entering service with other SF units and are commonly used by YAMAM.

IDF SF operator carrying an ODF Optronics EyeDrive on his back during deployment in the Territories. The operator is armed with a M4A1 fitted with an AN/PEQ-14.

IDF underground tunnels clearing UGV, commonly used by YAHALOM (photo: IDF).

  • Target Acquisition Systems (TAS) in 2008 three Elbit TAS have entered service in the IDF: MARS (known as Armon, short-range system), Coral (known as Amit, medium-range system) and Matan (long-range system). Highly compact, lightweight and with fully integrated day and night capabilities, these three systems gradually replaced a wide range of bulkier systems from different manufacturers currently in service, bringing long due TAS standardization to the IDF. Further, unlike the past where TAS systems were issued almost exclusively to specialized units, the Armon and Amit are also issued to regular infantry units.

From left to right: Elbit Matan (photo: IDF); Elbit Amit (photo: IDF) and Elbit Armon.

  • Infantry Command and Control system – part of IDF Land Forces Command Digital Army program in 2008 the Golani infantry brigade was the first unit to be issued with this system which comprised of a tactical computer, a PRC-710 radio, a monocular HHD with integrated controls, a touch screen monitor and a GPS module. In 2011, the system entered service with the Tzanhanim  infantry brigade and will be eventually issued to other infantry brigades and SF units.

The IDF infantry command and control system seen here with its primary components: a specialized vest for carrying the system, a tactical computer (attached to a battery pack), a PRC-710 radio, monocular HHD with integrated controls and a touch screen monitor (photo: IDF).

  • Elbit PRC-710 – As of 2009, the Elbit PRC-710, a secured man-portable radio, is gradually replacing older platforms in service, including the PRC-77, the PRC-91 and PRC-624, which entered service in the IDF in the early 1970's, the late 1980's and the early 1990's respectively.

 

2011-Presenet


Largely modeled after U.S. Special Operations Forces, in recent years the IDF SF have been issued new personal gear such as modern combat helmets, dedicated combat uniforms and modular plate carriers. These new systems, replaced legacy Israeli systems dating back to the 1980's and 1990's and helped closed some of the gear gaps between Israeli SF and foreign SF. 

  • Meprolight MOR - an advanced battery-powered multifunction aiming sight, combining a red dot sight, a visible laser and an IR laser. In recent years the MOR entered service with the IDF SF replacing older optics such as the ITL MARS and Meprolight Mepro 21 as well as standalone laser pointers.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, visiting Oketz. Left operator armed with a M4 Commando fitted with a stock, a flip-up sight, a MOR, a forward grip and a flashlight; right operator armed with a M4 Commando fitted with a flip-up sight, a Meprolight MOR (with a killflash), a forward grip and an AN/PEQ-14 (photo: GPO).

  • Meprolight M5 - an advanced battery-powered red dot sight. In late 2015 the M5 won the IDF bid for its future standard issue red dot optic, and have since been mass issue to both SF and regular units, replacing the ITL MARS, Meprolight Mepro 21 and other legacy optics

Duvdevan operators during training. Foreground operator is wearing an Ops-Core Sentry helmet fitted with a helmet light and is armed with a M4 Commando fitted with Meprolight M5, a rail system, forward grip and a flashlight. Background operator's weapon is fitted with an ITL MARS (photo: IDF).

  • Helmet mounted cameras - enable post-deployment/training briefing and can also transmit live feeds to support real time Command & Control. GoPro and Contour are the most common models used.

LOTAR Eilat operator checking his Negev Commando during training. Note helmet mounted Contour camera (photo: IDF).

  • Helmets - in recent years the IDF has been issuing Ops-Core helmets to SF units. These modern helmets feature light-weight designs with integrated rails system for easy and secure attachment of various accessories including night vision, cameras, CID and flashlights.

Shayetet 13 operator during an oil rig training. The operator is armed with a suppressed 9mm Micro Tavor fitted with a Meprolight MOR and a forward grip. The operator is also wearing an Ops-Core FAST helmet fitted with rails and a GoPro camera and combat uniforms (photo: IDF).

  • Combat uniforms - in recent years the IDF has been issuing new combat uniforms to SF units. Unlike the current general-purpose uniforms, these new uniforms were designed specifically for combat and to be worn under plate carriers.

The Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Ya'alon, speaking with a Shayetet 13 operator during a visit to the unit. The operator is armed with a suppressed weapon and is wearing combat uniforms and a head-mounted NVG harness (photo: Israeli MOD).

  • Modular Plate Carriers - in recent years modular plate carriers featuring a modern MOLLE interface entered service with the IDF SF, replacing both fixed platforms and previous generation modular plate carriers with Velcro interface.

YAMAM operators and their dog during training. The operators are armed with M4 Commando fitted with EOTech, AN/PEQ-15 and compensators. Left operator is wearing an Ops-Core Sentry helmet fitted a Contour camera (photo: IDF). All operators are also wearing combat uniforms.

  • Suppressors - previously rarely used even with the IDF vast SF community, suppressors are now more widely issued. 

Shaldag operators during training. Foreground operators armed with suppressed M4 Commando fitted with Trijicon Reflex and Insight AN/PEQ-16, rail systems and forward grips. Background operator armed with a suppressed M4 Commando fitted with a Trijicon ACOG 4x32, a backup sight, a rail system and a forward grip. All operators also wearing Ops-Core FAST helmets and combat uniforms (photo: IDF).

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