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Tzayad: IDF’s Version of Waze

Among all of the first-rate technologies employed by the IDF, a special few deserve the spotlight. One of those special few is called the “Tzayad” (Hebrew: “Hunter”) Digital Army Program.

The program allows units to share information on the location of friendly and hostile units, much like a GPS program in your car or phone enables you to easily locate restaurants or sites.

During the early 90s, older versions of the system were used to guard the borders of Israel, but it could only pinpoint vehicles and people. However, following the Second Lebanon War, Tzayad got a makeover. It can receive data from multiple sources simultaneously and interpret the data into a single stream, offering commanders the information they need to make instant decisions while under fire.

The IDF’s Waze

Commanders can upload information about their squad, including its position, number of soldiers, and current weapons cache. Based on this data, Tzayad determines if soldiers need more ammunition or supplies and automatically requests missing items.

In addition, much like the popular smartphone application Waze which displays traffic information on roadways, Tzayad can plan routes for officers and pinpoint hazards along the road for others. Enemy positions are highlighted in red, while friendlies are in blue.

Tzayad can also send messages in real-time to helicopter pilots who are using the device, allowing for the rapid evacuation of wounded soldiers. Tzayad informs the pilots of the unit’s exact location as well as topographical information necessary for a smooth landing.

What about hackers?

Should a Tzayad unit ever be intercepted by an enemy, it can be remotely be shut down by the IDF’s central command.

Tzayad comes in different sizes depending on the specific needs of each unit. Due to space limitations in the field, infantry and ground soldiers carry a Tzayad that is about the size of a tablet computer. Every field officer must complete the 15-day training course necessary to operate the program.

It’s the army’s GPS, navigator, and communications system all in one–basically, it’s the future of ground-based fighting.