How Israeli trash bins and UAVs are helping Americans

Public trash receptacles are a prime target for terrorists, a problem that Mistral is solving with its bomb-resistant trash containers.There may not seem to be a connection between trashcans and unmanned air vehicles. But state-of-the-art developments by Israel in both …

Public trash receptacles are a prime target for terrorists, a problem that Mistral is solving with its bomb-resistant trash containers.There may not seem to be a connection between trashcans and unmanned air vehicles. But state-of-the-art developments by Israel in both products represent two clear examples of how Israeli technology is increasingly being harnessed by the U.S. government bodies and American companies to protect U.S. interests and citizens.

The trash cans are bomb-resistant, developed by Israel-based Mistral Security Inc. and recently deployed at New York’s Penn Station, just one of the many important American facilities which are utilizing the safety innovation.

Eyal Banai, the CEO of Mistral, which also has offices in Maryland, said that each
Mistral Blastguard container has three layers that are built to withstand up to about 10 pounds of explosives. The innermost is a simple thin bin to collect trash. The middle layer is made of a patented material that is designed to absorb the blast and direct it upward. The outermost layer, made of stainless steel or regular steel, expands in a blast and has one weak point. In the event that a blast gets past the inner layers, the weak point will direct the explosion in one direction.

“Any blast set off from these trash receptacles are directed up, and not out,” Dan Stessel, an Amtrak spokesman told Newsday. The cans which cost close to $2,000, have been used in Jerusalem, and are also being scattered throughout the New York’s subway stations and in the Long Island Rail Road and location under the authority of the NJ Transit. Mistral has supplied similar containers to Amtrak, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and the Atlanta Transit Authority.

“We’ve been putting them in as we get them,” Long Island MTA spokesman Tom Kelly he said. Their presence takes on new importance as Republican delegates travel to Madison Square Garden, above the terminal, for this summer’s GOP convention.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which operates the Metro subway system, removed trash containers from train platforms in 2002 and installed Mistral’s bomb-resistant ones – at a total cost of more than $1 million – near subway entrances.

“During the last two to three years, we increased significantly our market share and sales,” Banai told the publication Homeland Security & Defense. “We prefer not to say who are the customers,” Banai said, but added “many airports in the United States have our trash cans.”

Many of the deals to use Mistral’s equipment has been the result of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new security directives for passenger rail operators, which includes the requirements that train station trashcans be made bomb-resistant.

Prior to his role within Mistral, Banai served as the Director of the Washington Operations of Solcoor Inc., a subsidiary of Koor Industries, the largest industrial conglomerate in Israel. In this capacity he worked with various defense and industrial companies within the Koor conglomerate in bringing their products and technologies to the U.S. government procurement and prime contractor markets. Previously, Banai also served as the R&D Assistant Defense Attaché at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. where his work focused on joint defense R&D projects as well as procurement policies of the U.S. Department of Defense.

In addition to its technical specifications to absorb explosions, Mistral’s BlastGuard containers are engineered to perform their original task – to provide a highly effective means of litter control. An internal hinged lid with lock provides a secure trash container with easy service and minimum maintenance. Models range from 21 to 40 gallons of trash capacity.

From the floors of train stations to the skies of the West Coast, Israeli technology is also being utilized for a totally different task. Two Hermes 450 drones made by Israeli company Elbit Systems have been assigned to the Arizona border patrol to secure a 350-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexican border that has become the most popular and deadliest corridor for illegal immigrants.

The drones are being provided by Elbit’s fully owned U.S. subsidiary EFW Inc., based in Fort Worth, Texas. The two unmanned and unarmed aerial vehicles, piloted remotely, can fly up to 90 mph, detect movement 15 miles away and can transmit live pictures day and night of vast stretches of desert and grasslands traversed by more than 1,000 undocumented immigrants a day. Border patrol officials at an Arizona news conference told Reuters that the two drones were the first to be deployed on the U.S. border.

The Israeli-made drones are part of a Department of Homeland Security initiative to arrest and sometimes rescue mostly Mexican immigrants, many of whom die in their bid to seek a higher standard of living in the United States. The drones are the most sophisticated hardware in an array of sky-watch towers, ground sensors, cameras, and mobile scope trucks already used by some 2,000 Arizona border agents.

According to Elbit, this initial pilot program may be extended into next year and may be expanded by Customs and Border Protection department to include the northern US border with Canada.

“We are pleased to be supporting this important effort by providing this valuable technology and operating expertise to help the Department of Homeland Security detect and respond to border incidents,” said EFW’s President, Tim Taylor. “Our corporation brings extensive experience in the use of UAVs and associated security systems specifically designed for border protection and we believe that the UAV’s will become an integral and successful part of the homeland security front.”