Unit 81 (Hebrew: יחידה 81, "Unit eight - one") is a secret technology unit part of the Military Intelligence Directorate, an independent service of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The unit focuses on building and supplying cutting-edge technologies to Israeli combat soldiers and spies. It is even more secretive than the related Unit 8200 responsible for signal intelligence (SIGINT) and code decryption.
The origin of the unit is unknown. The unit existed since at least the early days of the State of Israel in 1948 and was referred to as the "Intelligence Branch 8" but must have existed in some form long before the establishment of the country in the underground forces of Haganah under the British Mandate. The unit was then responsible for the development of special technologies and the training of the operators and agents responsible for operating them. It was later called Unit 432.
The unit consists mainly of military personnel, but civilians also serve in the unit including highly qualified experts in unique fields such as quantum physics, aerospace engineering, and nanotechnology.
Among other things, the unit develops advanced cyberwarfare weapons, tools for SIGINT, and combat systems used by the Sayeret Matkal the most elite special forces unit of the IDF that is also part of the Military Intelligence Directorate.
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- Simantov, David; Hershkovitz, Shai (2011). Publishing in the IDF - The First Decade of the IDF Intelligence Division. Israeli Ministry of Defense Press. p. 109.
- ""יש לנו אפס תקלות": היחידה הסודית נחשפת לראשונה - וואלה! חדשות". וואלה!News (in Hebrew). 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2020-12-11.
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