Smugglers of drugs and illegal migrants using tunnels along the US-Mexico border may want to keep an eye on Israel. The US government, after all, is cosponsoring the tunnel-detection technology now being developed by Israeli engineers.
Described by the Hebrew media as the underground equivalent of Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, this latest innovation hit world headlines upon the announcement that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) uncovered a two-kilometer-long, concrete-lined tunnel on its Gaza border.
The media is awash with reports about this first-of-its kind tunnel detection system. While the Israeli government has been funding its development for five years, few details about the new system have been reported until now.
News reports say that up to 100 companies – including Iron Dome’s developers, Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems — are involved in assembling this groundbreaking detection system. Military units, Shin Bet security agency officers, civilian engineering, infrastructure contractors and tunnel construction experts are also credited with helping.
“The search for tunnels is at the top of our priority list … and we will not spare any efforts,” said Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, following the IDF announcement that it found a tunnel extending from southern Gaza into Israeli territory.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) April 19, 2016
The fine details about how the anti-tunnel technology works are still under wraps. But according to Yediot Aharonot, dozens of Israeli-developed sensors gather information from the field and transmit it to a control system for analysis using advanced algorithms. The system, says the report, can identify the length of the tunnel and its exact location without false alarms.
Like many of Israel’s other astonishing tech achievements, this “world’s first” anti-tunnel technology reiterates the extraordinary culture of Israeli military research and development.
“We do whatever we can to find a technological solution,” Maj. Gen. Nitsan Alon, head of the IDF operations directorate, said at a briefing.
“Dealing with the phenomenon of tunnels is very complex, and the state of Israel is a world leader in this field. This battle demands from us persistence, creativity, and also responsibility and good judgment,” said Ya’alon.
According to a report in Defense News, Israel’s Ministry of Defense has invested more than $60 million in anti-tunnel technologies. In February, the Financial Times reported that the US will provide $120 million over the next three years to help develop complementary technologies.
An Israel Today report says the country is building a counter-tunnel barrier along the Israel-Gaza border that “will also feature a state-of-the-art fence, complete with sensors, observation balloons, see-shoot systems, and intelligence gathering measures, as well as an underground wall.”