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Motorola Solutions To Provide IDF’s Battlefield Smartphone

The phone will have a touch screen and camera, but will be ruggedized and resistant to dust and water.
/ By Yuval Azulai and Tzahi Hoffman /
The Ministry of Defense has signed a deal with Motorola Solutions, under which the latter will provide the IDF and the Ministry of Defense with its next generation smartphone. The agreement was signed yesterday by Ministry of Defense director general Dan Harel and the heads of Motorola Solutions Israel. The Ministry of Defense said the 15 year communications agreement would cost $100 million, and would be half financed by US aid.The Motorola Solutions smartphone will replace the encrypted communications system currently in use by the IDF, Mountain Rose, which was also developed and manufactured by the company. The army estimates that some military units will be supplied with the new system’s first devices in about two years.

Motorola Solutions was chosen to be the Ministry of Defense’s sole provider of the future smartphones, on the grounds that it is the only company that has devices with proven encryption capabilities that answer to the defense system’s needs. This is despite the fact that Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.(IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) unit Elta Systems has tried to advance the development of a smartphone to replace the Mountain Rose system over the past two years. Defense establishment sources say that the Ministry of Defense’s decision to sign a long-term agreement with Motorola Solutions is not intended to put an end to the smartphone that Elta Systems is developing. According to the sources, it is possible that in the coming years there will be additional tenders for smartphones for the army, in a manner that will allow Elta to bid as well.

$50 million of the new smartphone system program will be funded using US aid, which will cover the cost of adaptation, development, and production of the devices for the IDF, by Motorola Solutions US. The other half of the program will be funded from the defense budget, primarily covering maintenance of the system over 15 years by Motorola Solutions Israel.

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Encrypted email from the battlefield

The Ministry of Defense and Motorola are not divulging many details about the new smartphone. From the pictures, it seems that the device has a 4-inch touch screen and physical buttons for turning the device on and off, answering a call, and accessing menus. The smartphone is ruggedized, and is resistant to dust and water. It is equipped with GPS for navigation and a camera with an 8 megapixel sensor that uses special applications.

Motorola is not releasing details of battery life or how much real-world battery time soldiers will get using it. The only information that has been released on the subject, by the Ministry of Defense, is that the battery will allow up to 400 minutes of talk time and 500 hours of standby. Battery performance drops dramatically when screen use and use of other functions is factored in. Among other things, the smartphone will enable encrypted text messages, photos, and emails to be sent from the battlefield.

Ministry of Defense Acquisition and Exports Administration head Brig. Gen. (Res.) Shmuel Zucker said: “The contract for the development and purchase of the first military smartphones will bring the smartphone revolution to the battlefield of the future, and will lend a significant advantage to the IDF and the entire defense system. We have succeeded in bringing the most advanced technology in this field to the IDF, at the best price.” The Ministry of Defense says that the system, which already exists as a prototype, was found to be a fit for the future needs of the defense forces. Until the new system is fully integrated, the IDF will continue to use the Mountain Rose system.

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