IWI unveiled its Arbel firing system in April 2024. (Seth Frantzman / Breaking Defense)

JERUSALEM — Small arms maker Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) this week announced a new “computerized small arms system” designed to make firing in combat more accurate.

The system, dubbed Arbel and unveiled on Thursday, consists of a “computer-based platform, an upgraded electronic trigger mechanism with sensors and a new firing mode… and a removable battery,” the company said in a statement.

It is designed to be mounted on different weapons, and during a demonstration at a rain-soaked range in late March, it was fitted on a Negev light machine gun (LMG) as well as the Arad, the company’s AR-15-style rifle. On the LMG, the system is attached via a under-two-pound box on the base of the fire control grip, whereas on the rifle an attachment under one pound is incorporated into the lower receiver.

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Once either weapon is set to “Arbel” mode – like it would be set to burst or safety mode – the system monitors the movement and trigger status of the shooter, detecting the cadence of the shooter and releasing rounds when they have the best chance of hitting their target, according to the company’s explanation and demonstration.

The company said the system has up to 60 hours of operation without need for recharging its lithium batteries.

During the demonstration in northern Israel the company noted the challenges that infantry face on the battlefield, from fatigue to accelerated breathing and impaired motor functions. As such, providing them a system “not only increases combat lethality and survivability significantly but also sets new standards for precision and operational efficiency in dynamic combat environments,” said Ronen Hamudot, Executive Vice-President, Marketing and Sales, at IWI and the SK Group.

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IWI has been working on the system for almost a decade and chose to roll it out now because company officials said it fits well on the modern battlefield, especially in light of the increased threat of small drones.

During the demonstration, an operator fired at various targets on a course, including at a drone around 80 meters in the distance, which was taken down. IWI illustrated how at various ranges the rifle and machine run using the system put more rounds into a pre-defined box at a certain range, than without the system.

IWI does not describe it as exactly a fire control system, like the Israeli company Smartshooter’s system that releases a bullet only when locked on target. But IWI emphasized the increase in accuracy, and said the system is optic agnostic so can be used with different weapons.

The introduction of Arbel comes as IWI is also expanding its footprint, with a new facility in Israel’s southern city of Kiryat Gat.

This is also taking place as Israel is seeking to build more small arms locally, with a new tender the Ministry of Defense put out for 20,000 M-16-type rifles. IWI is part of Israel’s SK Group which was founded by Samy Katsav. SK Group is Israel’s largest private defense group, with around 2,000 employees, the company said.

For now, IWI officials haven’t said who specifically will to buy the Arbel system, but they have their sites, predictably, on the Israeli Defense Forces, but also on American and foreign special operations forces and western militaries in general.  They say the next stage is for it to enter mass production.