Israel is a small country surrounded by many enemies, facing many security threats. Iran systematically and consistently threatens Israel via official statements by its leaders, army commanders and media.In 2012, the IRGC predicted a war that would destroy Israel, and in January 2019 the guard corps said it would destroy Israel. In recent days, the crescendo of threats has increased. Syria is one of many Arab nations that fought with Israel upon its establishment on Palestinian-claimed territory in 1948, and the two remain technically in a state of war today.
The threat of terrorist infiltrations by Islamic State and other related organizations is a threat that will need to be addressed moving forward. This resurgence of terrorist activity has forced the IDF to build a new security fence on the 200 km border between Israel and Egypt. The fence was completed in 2013, and is monitored 24 hours a day by the IDF’s highly trained personnel. Both Hamas, the terror organization in control of the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization in Gaza, have made significant efforts to rebuild their military capabilities destroyed by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge. Despite the lack of resources in the Gaza Strip, Hamas invests its funds, manpower and equipment to restoring its weapons arsenal, says IDF.
“We face various terror armies,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said, including organizations that combine both militant and insurgent qualities, behaving like armies. This includes both Palestinian-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad as well as Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The challenge in battling such organizations is that it’s difficult to determine who is a combatant because members assimilate into urban environments and civilian areas.
Meanwhile, Israel also faces a “high trajectory threat” that involves short-, medium- and long-range ballistic missiles, putting the country in jeopardy of facing an unprecedented barrage, the ground forces warned. This could involve thousands of missiles fired a day at Israel, and so the country plans to further enhance its multilayered defense capabilities, but it would also need to prevent its enemy from continuing to fire.
Hezbollah’s arsenal of projectiles, which is larger than that of most NATO armies, represents the primary conventional threat to Israeli security. The Iranian-backed terror army is estimated to have some 130,000 projectiles, including, according to international media reports, the supersonic Yakhont surface-to-sea cruise missile, which it reportedly received from Assad regime weapons depots in recent years. Hezbollah is also trying to develop precision ballistic capabilities, with the support of Iran. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, meanwhile, are building up their own ballistic rocket capability. Adversaries in Lebanon and Gaza have fleets of unmanned aerial vehicles that can challenge offshore rigs. The Iranian Quds Force, for its part, could deploy its own direct strike capabilities on the Syrian coastline. In addition, Iran is believed to have moved cruise missiles to Syria.
“We may face a two- or three-front war — active areas or theaters simultaneously against different enemies and capabilities. We must address that,” Conricus said. “We want to shorten the time of combat for higher achievement on [the] battlefield at smaller cost for IDF and civilians. Think of a triangle, with sides of time and achievement and cost. Imagine we want that to be small with achievement being high.”
Israel has announced a new multiyear plan to restructure its armed forces to face existing and potential future adversaries for decades. The plan, called “Tnufa” in Hebrew and “Momentum” in English, has been a priority for Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of the General Staff, over the last year. The plan envisions fighting a multi-front war and harnessing the latest technologies to bring the most effective firepower from the largest number of different units to the forefront of the battlefield.
A major aspect of this involves going beyond Israel’s qualitative military edge to create a bigger gap between Israel and its enemies. That means denying enemies the ability to communicate or resupply. Conricus said future war for Israel will mean bringing numerous capabilities to back up whichever force is at the tip of the offensive spear. “So General Staff capabilities from Tel Aviv will be brought to that unit, such as live and semi-processed intel from [signals intelligence], pushing it instantly to a brigade that is maneuvering so it stands on shoulders of [the] mighty IDF machine.” “The IDF here is going into uncharted territory,” Conricus said, adding that Israel will establish a dedicated headquarters to address the “third circle” threat, a term Israel uses for Iran.
Momentum also seeks to shorten the time of a conflict while achieving more success on the battlefield and lessening the impact of war on civilians. Forces will be streamlined with the goal of a “swift and massive use of force against enemy systems,” the IDF said during a briefing about the plan. The Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University had noted in the summer of 2019 that political upheaval in Israel may “delay and limit the plan’s launch.” The country currently lacks a government after two elections failed to bring a majority for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the military built Momentum based on the last plan, called Gideon, which was announced in 2015. Having shrunk some land forces units and made them more efficient, the idea now is to address new challenges in the strategic and tactical environment. Israel wants to “extend drastically the gap in capabilities between us and our adversaries in the framework of available resources,” the IDF said. The emphasis is on being “multidimensional” and “multi-force,” combining all arms of the naval, land, air, cyber and intelligence forces.
The future conflict, according to Israel, will involve more unmanned aircraft systems and precision-guided munitions, or PGM, which will improve accuracy but could prove expensive. However, the spokesman added, victory can’t be achieved with standoff capability alone. “We need agile and strong maneuver capabilities and will spend a lot of resources. We will enhance fire and PGMs and create abilities to deliver overwhelming blows in fire,” he noted. Part of this is enabled by Israel’s close cooperation with the United States and programs in air defense and the F-35 fighter jet. Israel established a second F-35 squadron in January.
As Israel invests in more high-tech munitions, it will also continue reducing redundant forces, as it did under Gideon from 2015 to 2020. That means decommissioning aging tanks, such as the Merkava Mark III, as well as closing a tank battalion and one squadron. Israel also plans to created an infantry division for rapid maneuver. Some of the changes under Momentum are to take place by 2024, but it’s expected others will take more than a decade. For instance, Israel is to receive the next 30 F-35s by 2024, but testing future fighting vehicles and artillery along will take years before they’re made operational. Israel also foresees using technology such as artificial intelligence and networked digitization to bind units together and create force multipliers. It is a “condensed battlefield,” the IDF said, that will help “leverage fire and maneuver, using new and upcoming technology.” “The environment is changing. We have a necessity to understand changes and address it in training, equipment, doctrine, manpower and material,” Conricus said.
Israel Defense Forces National Security and Military Strategy
The Israel Defense Force (IDF) Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot published in August 2015 the National Security strategy outlining the changing threats to the Jewish state, and the IDF’s evolving methods of confronting them. The broad mission of the IDF is “Securing the existence of the State of Israel, ensuring it is a democratic and Jewish home for the Jewish people, safeguarding a robust economy and society, and boosting Israel’s status throughout the world.”
Israel will not initiate wars for the purpose of conquering lands or achieving strategic goals, as it did in the First Lebanon War, but when a war is forced on it, the IDF will prefer to attack rather than merely go on the defensive. In the strategic document, the tried and true principles of deterrence, alertness, defense, decisive action and victory remain the core fundamentals in terms of deploying force. Victory, according to the IDF document, means “achieving diplomatic aims set for the battle in a way that will lead to the improvement of the security situation after the conflict.”
The document clarifies to the political leadership what is reasonable for them to demand and expect from the IDF, while at the same time demanding the prime minister and security cabinet to define exactly what the objectives of using military force in each instance are, what restrictions and constraints are imposed on the army, and what are the desired results.
The document differentiates three types of situations: Routine time, emergency situations and wartime. Based on this division, conflicts like Operation Protective Edge and Operation Pillar of Defense are considered confrontations limited in their scope and are therefore define as “emergency,” rather than “war.” This means these confrontations were meant to bring Israel “back to a situation of calm, without striving for an immediate strategic change,” so the IDF cannot be expected to bring down the Hamas regime in Gaza in such a military campaign, unless the political leadership tells it otherwise.
The strategic assessment of the IDF posits that conventional and nonconventional threats within the first and most immediate circle of proximity are dwindling, even as sub conventional threats such as terrorist organizations and cyber warfare are on the rise. Israel currently has strategic cooperation with Jordan and Egypt. The unclassified report does not mention Iranian nuclear threat, which is presented by the political leadership as the biggest existential threat Israel is facing.
The main threat as coming from military organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah or terror organizations that are not affiliated with any one country, like global jihad and the Islamic State. The document also stresses the need to “reduce civilian, border-adjacent vulnerabilities,” by evacuating communities that would be placed under imminent danger by the fighting.
The document expouses ways in which the Israel Defense Forces plans to build its forces in the coming five years under conditions of severely restricted resources. A basic term in Eizenkot’s doctrine is prioritizing; the IDF will favor fighting with smaller forces that can maneuver quickly and easily between different fronts, over large and stationary forces. The changes include an improvement in the IDF’s ability to wage cyber warfare, and methods to preserve intelligence, aerial and naval superiority.
Ground forces will be built to “focus on deadliness, mobility and survivability,” and will aspire to “low ratios of wear and tear due to advanced protection systems.” Commanders in the field will be “trained to act quickly when challenged by assault or abduction. This window of opportunity allows the army to take calculated risks, including the shift between old and new generation technologies. For example, we could remove the older F-16 models from service, even before the F-35 enters IAF service.”
The military doctrine refers to “shock and awe” in Lebanon, including the destruction of thousands of targets a day; requiring vast quantities of smart and accurate ordinances. The use of “dumb ordinance” will cause collateral damage, which will prevent any effective military campaign, unlike smart ordinances, which cost substantially more. The communications infrastructure necessary for these types of surgical bombing campaigns also require constant and expensive investment in upgrades and development.
Additionally, in four years’ time, the military will conduct some of its operations in conflict zones using “robots”: From drones, to unmanned border patrol vehicles, and unmanned patrol vessels. These robots will spare the cost of human lives, but also require vast sums of money. The more expensive the systems get, the more expensive the training and exercises needed to operate them. A modern army is a very expensive organization to maintain. Other principles detailed in the document include the importance of the strategic cooperation with the United States, strengthening Israel’s standing in the region and maintaining Israel’s relative advantage over its enemies.
Israeli Navy’s new combat doctrine
The INS Magen, a German-made Sa’ar 6-class warship, arrived at Haifa Naval Base in early December 2020. It will be joined by the INS Oz in July of this year, and INS Atzmaut and INS Nitzhahon are scheduled to arrive in September and November. The ships are constructed by the German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp, and the design of the platforms was conducted in close collaboration with Israel Navy engineers. Each platform costs $400 million to produce, with the German government covering one-third of the cost.
Israeli onboard combat systems will be installed after the warships arrive in Israel. Ninety-five percent of those systems will be Israeli-made, and many of them will be completely new, designed for today’s threats. The arrival of the Magen at Haifa Naval Base marked the Israeli Navy’s transition into a new combat doctrine that is better suited than its predecessor to the evolving regional threat. Under the new strategy, the Navy will play a significantly greater role in rapidly detecting and engaging enemy targets on shore. The Magen project therefore represents a leap forward in Israel’s naval defense capabilities and an evolved naval strategy concept designed for the 21st century threat landscape.
In short, the arena is rapidly changing, and threats of high-intensity projectile barrages are evolving at a pace not seen in the past. At the same time, Israel’s dependence on the sea has never been greater, and is set to expand even further in coming years. The Tamar offshore rigs are located west of Gaza in Israel’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), while Leviathan is off the Haifa coastline. The Karish and Tanin gas fields are located north of Leviathan in the Mediterranean Sea. The rigs deliver liquefied natural gas to the coast, where they are converted to electricity in power stations. Some 70% of Israel’s electric consumption is now based on natural gas, and the transition away from coal and toward gas is essentially irreversible due to infrastructure changes. Around half of Israel’s fresh water comes from the Mediterranean Sea via five desalination plants, with two more expected to come online in the next few years.
The vast majority of Israel’s imports also arrive via the sea. They include 90% of the country’s wheat, 300,000 vehicles per year, and an array of raw materials that depend on secure sea routes—not air traffic—to continue to arrive. Container shipping represents a rate of import with which cargo planes cannot compete, as a cargo ship can carry many times more goods than any cargo aircraft. Sea routes and ports are thus more critical for Israel’s daily routine than air cargo. Even during the Yom Kippur War’s “air train” of successive planes carrying emergency military equipment and bombs to Israel, such supplies represented no more than 10% of Israel’s imports of emergency supplies in the 1973 conflict. Most supplies came in via the sea.
Today, Haifa’s port handles 53% of imports, Ashdod’s 43%, and Eilat’s some 4%. While small, Eilat’s port is critical because it represents an additional southern outlet via the Red Sea. Israel’s first PM, David Ben-Gurion, once noted that without maritime control the State of Israel would be besieged. His observation is even more relevant today. The sea remains Israel’s longest border and its chief electricity source, water supply, and means of bringing goods into the country.
As Israel’s economic waters—an area roughly twice the size of Israel in square kilometers—grew in strategic importance, naval planners began thinking of new ways to defend it. In 2013, the government allocated the Navy the job of defending the state’s waters, and planning work began in earnest. As it evaluated its new role in securing strategic assets in Israel’s EEZ, the Israel Navy concluded that it can only protect offshore rigs using ships.
As a result, each Sa’ar 6 ship will have two advanced air defense systems onboard: Rafael’s naval Iron Dome and Israel Aerospace Industries’ Barak 8. A single radar made by IAI-Elta will control the onboard defense systems. The same radar can detect ballistic and cruise missile threats from a long range, and the ship’s battle management system can quickly assign the right interceptor for a rapid hard kill. The ships will also be equipped with advanced electronic warfare capabilities for a “soft” layer of defense against enemy projectiles.
This multi-layered defense of the gas rigs will form a virtual fence that will protect them against an array of threats—including fast, low-flying cruise missiles, which are the most challenging targets to engage. The ships’ command and control system represents an additional core capability that will integrate all the onboard systems, employ artificial intelligence, and build a live tactical picture. Seventy-six mm caliber guns and Rafael-made Typhoon remote control weapons stations will also be installed.
But defense is only one part of the new concept. The other part relates to how the Navy thinks about engaging adversaries on land. This entails a shift from the Blue Water warfare doctrine, which has dominated the Navy since the 1973 War, to a Brown Water doctrine, which places a new focus on sea-to-land combat. The Yom Kippur War was the first time Israeli and hostile ships fired missiles at one another at sea. On October 6, 1973, at the battle of Latakiya, Israel successfully implemented its doctrine of the time, which called for small, fast vessels carrying relatively short-range missiles and guns charging toward enemy ships at full speed until they came within missile range (12 -14 nautical miles). Once within range, the ships struck their targets.
Since enemy warships had missiles with longer ranges in 1973, the Israel Navy had to deploy electronic warfare and chafes to defend its ships. The Latakiya battle was a decisive Israeli victory that validated the doctrine, which dominated the Navy’s thinking for the next 30 years. Ships were designed with defensive and attack capabilities for ship-to-ship combat based on this experience. But the 2006 Second Lebanon War made clear that it was time for the Navy to update its doctrine. When the INS Hanit Sa’ar 5-class frigate was hit by a Hezbollah shore-to-sea missile, the Navy saw that things had changed.
The arms race that flooded the region with precision-guided missiles and new types of rockets meant Israeli targets both on land and at sea faced a new level of exposure. Hamas, for its part, is heavily investing in its naval commando assets—an investment that includes the construction of underwater tunnels used by Hamas scuba attackers. Meanwhile, defense industries set about converting surface-to-surface missiles into land-to-sea missiles, with some of those missiles proliferating to adversaries. A new strategic naval situation was taking shape. The Navy’s Brown Water concept is founded on the building block of interconnectivity, which means the creation of a joint air situation picture between the Navy and the Israel Air Force.
In other words, whichever branch detects targets first automatically shares the threat with the other branch—a key feature of network-centered warfare. The result is that Israel’s air defense networks are nourished by the same sensors on land and at sea. Ground forces can also feed data into this common network and use it to order strikes on targets from the sea. The Sa’ar 6’s advanced radar detection and interception capabilities, and its connection to ground-based air defense systems, form a central foundation for a new level of interoperability. Ships that detect threats will transfer the data to land-based military networks, meaning it will be easier for the IDF to launch return strikes. The Sa’ar 6 ships will also be involved in intense combat data-sharing among themselves.
Another key feature is the ships’ low radar cross section design, which creates a near stealth effect for enemy radar systems. The new ships carry more firepower per square meter than any ship its size in the world, and for a 2,000-ton, 90-meter-long vessel (10 meters longer than the Sa’ar 5), it is packed to the brim with firepower. During routine times, the Sa’ar 6 ships will conduct patrols as well as operational assignments. During emergencies, they will head to designated defense zones to protect the gas rigs. The ships’ onboard systems will enable them to detect, transmit, and receive land-based threat locations and strike those targets if called upon.
The Israel Navy will grow to a size of approximately 15 vessels. While relatively small, the fleet will nevertheless enjoy a high degree of flexibility, meaning it will conduct operational assignments that go beyond protecting the gas rigs. The Sa’ar 6 ships can stay at sea longer and sail farther than their predecessors, so they will be able to play an active role in securing Israel’s maritime borders and defending its sea routes. The ships can take active part in Israel’s Campaign Between the Wars, which involves disrupting enemy force build-up activities in multiple arenas with an emphasis on the north. These ships’ arrival represents a milestone in the evolution of the Israel Navy.
Achieving Maximum Innovation at the Lowest Cost
Israel is remarkable for its ability to produce maximum military innovation with limited resources. Its defense budget is less than one-thirtieth that of the United States. Nonetheless, the ability of the tiny “startup nation” to rapidly and affordably bring unique capabilities to the field is leading the United States to import some of its novel defense products, such as the Iron Dome missile defense system and the Trophy active defense system for armored vehicles. While not a peer in terms of size, Israel is also a free-market democracy with a private-sector defense innovation base and a commitment to military technological superiority.
Israel is driven to be as efficient and cost-effective as possible in developing the advanced military capabilities it needs. Despite its small size and scarce resources, Israel has for decades been committed to a defense strategy that emphasizes both military technological advantage and self-sufficiency in military technologies. Three best practices contribute to much of its success in disruptive military innovation. These are the Israeli program for building an elite corps of military innovation leaders; the use of operational demonstrators as a key step in military R&D; and the maintenance of close relationships between the operational military, military R&D, and commercial technology communities.
Workforce Development: Talpiot. After Israel’s near defeat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the nation’s military leaders and academics determined they needed a highly trained body of technically educated military leaders to ensure the technological superiority of Israel’s forces. The program—called Talpiot, meaning “bastion” or “fortified tower” in Hebrew—was launched in 1979 as an elite training program to develop those leaders. Management of Talpiot was given to the new Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, known by its Hebrew acronym MAFAT, established by Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.
Israeli citizens, both male and female, have a period of compulsory military service following high school. Instead of enlisting as conscripts, the highest scoring science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students can apply for admission to Talpiot to satisfy their service requirement. The selection is highly competitive, with only 30 to 60 applicants making the cut for each year’s class. Students are selected for not only STEM skills but also leadership aptitude and the ability to communicate and work as part of a team.
After selection, they complete a structured military and technical training program, regarded as “like having a Rhodes scholarship, a presidential fellowship, and a Harvard MBA all rolled into one.” The cadets attend classes at Hebrew University, taking a rigorous but broad curriculum of math, physics, and engineering courses designed to give them the tools to address many types of technical problems. They also conduct lead-in training with multiple military units from all branches of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It is not unusual for a Talpiot graduate (known as “a Talpiot”) to have attended airborne school, learned to operate a tank, gone to sea on a naval vessel, and trained in simulators with an air force flying unit. They experience the aggregate of the military training that different types of normal conscripts would receive. In addition, each student conducts a thesis project that proposes a technical solution to a military need that he or she identified during training. For example, the Trophy Active Defense System had its origin as a Talpiot project.
During academic training, the cadets live together as a cohort, developing a tight network that serves them throughout their careers. Because of their cross-service military training, they also develop a network across military branches and units. Talpiots serve for six or more years following commissioning as officers. Many extend their academic training, going on to earn specialized master’s or doctoral degrees. They are then assigned individually to different military units or R&D organizations. The active-duty assignments for each Talpiot are carefully selected by MAFAT to match his or her skills, training, and interests, with many Talpiots serving initially in programs or units related to their thesis topics.
In service, the Talpiots serve as an elite corps of technically trained military officers who act as the glue between Israel’s operational military and defense technology communities. They have a firsthand understanding of both the military requirements in the field and the applicable science and technology and are expected to take the initiative to use both to identify and solve problems.
Talpiot graduates who stay in the military beyond their service commitment tend to be promoted and often end up in senior leadership positions. Many, however, are recruited by the private sector, where they are highly sought for technical and management positions. The program is perceived as a breeding ground for Israel’s tech industry CEOs, as a long list of technology corporations and startups are led by former Talpiots. This elite reputation, in turn, further drives the top high school candidates in the country to apply for the program. The key success factors for the Talpiot program can be summarized as follows:
- rigorous and multidimensional selection process
- unique combination of military and academic training with emphasis on the big picture
- careful matching of graduates with follow-on assignments
- popular perception as a path to elite career opportunities.
- Operational Demonstrators. Israel’s need for efficiency in military development means it cannot afford to let potentially impactful advances languish in the “valley of death” between invention and adoption. Thus, operational demonstrator experiments are used by MAFAT as a key step on the military innovation pathway. They are particularly important for disruptive bottom-up innovations for which formal requirements may not yet exist.
Because Israel does not operate any government defense laboratories, all new technologies are developed by industry. MAFAT funding supports the development of new military technologies from the basic research through operational demonstrator steps. In the operational demonstrator step, working prototypes of new technologies are provided to active military units for evaluation in the field. Feedback from the operational demonstrator period is valuable, both in fine-tuning the technology to meet military needs and in developing military support for the new technology.
Because the operational demonstrators are conducted as part of R&D, and not part of a military acquisition program, they have freedom to move quickly and the ability to take risk. The applicable military branch is involved early in the demonstrator process but in terms of resources is usually responsible only for designating the participating military unit. Funding is budgeted by thrust area, not by individual demonstrator project, so MAFAT has the flexibility to allocate or reallocate funds between demonstrators as opportunities arise. This allows for dozens of operational demonstrators to be conducted each year.
Prototype technologies are usually provided to units in training, but because the IDF are often involved in action, sometimes unexpectedly, the technology often receives early combat experience. This was the case with the first Iron Dome antimissile batteries, two of which were deployed as demonstrator-phase prototypes to the towns of Beersheba and Ashkelon near the Gaza Strip after Hamas began a rocket offensive in March 2011.54 Real-life missile engagement experience helped refine the system. Perhaps more important, the visible successes of the prototypes won IDF support for the technology. Following successful missile interceptions, the previously skeptical commander of the Israeli air force met the project leader in Ashkelon and announced, “You now have the biggest supporter you’ll ever have! I was wrong when I didn’t believe!”
In another example, the Trophy Active Defense System for the Merkava Mark 4 tank was first tested as a demonstrator during the 10-day IDF Joint Combat exercise in October 2010. Recently, a computerized smart gunsight for infantry rifles also received an operational demonstrator evaluation during IDF infantry training. When inexperienced recruits were able to hit moving targets with the first bullet with more than 70 percent accuracy, the dramatic results led to an initial defense ministry order of 2,000 gunsights.
Operational Military/R&D/Industry Collaboration. Last, the Israeli defense innovation system places significant emphasis on collaboration and the building of relationships and information linkages, both between the operational military and MAFAT and between the military’s R&D activities and the commercial sector.
At the top, MAFAT is headed by a three-star general equivalent who reports directly to both the IDF chief of staff and the director-general of the defense ministry. This makes MAFAT itself a bridge between the civilian and military halves of the Israeli defense enterprise. At the intermediate levels, MAFAT personnel have a close relationship with their operational military counterparts. Many MAFAT staff are uniformed military, including Talpiots. R&D working plans are routinely discussed with the military branches at the O4/O5 levels. Thus, operational needs are not communicated by reports—the R&D personnel often understand them almost as well as their operational counterparts.59 Operational leaders similarly have good awareness of the R&D pipeline.
Because most of the scientists, engineers, and executives in the Israeli tech industry are IDF reservists with prior military training, they are familiar with military needs. However, former military service is not the only source of close relationships between the military and private sector. The translation of military advances to commercial uses is regarded as a powerful source of entrepreneurial opportunity. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, “Applying military technology to the civilian sector has become Israel’s greatest source of wealth.” Intermediate- and junior-level officers in MAFAT interact often with industry counterparts and do most of the initial vetting of industry inventions. Young R&D officers are encouraged to spend one to two days per week visiting technology companies, particularly startups. Prototype purchases and operational demonstrations are driven largely by these interactions and are supported by fast and flexible contracting processes designed for engaging commercial firms.