Israeli Merkava IV tank to be equipped with active protection system

Israel is ahead of America in military technology but U.S. defence chiefs are too proud to just buy it

After a series of successful tests, the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced that it will equip their Merkava IV main battle tanks (MBTs) with the Trophy anti-missile system. UPI reported yesterday, that Israeli army chiefs have been pushing for the system since 22 Merkavas were damaged by Russian Kornet anti-tank guided missiles during the war with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

Designed to supplement the armor of both light and heavy armored fighting vehicles, the active protection system (APS) was collaborative developed by Rafael Armament Development Authority and Israel Aircraft Industries' Elta Group. The system combines a 360 degree radar to detect incoming ATGMs and rocket-propelled grenades with a computer system that directs launchers that fire a cloud of metal projectiles in the manner of a shotgun blast. Israeli defense officials told the Jerusalem Post that Trophy had intercepted all the incoming missiles in last week's tests.

The Pentagon tested Trophy in March 2006. One of the testers told NBC that it "worked in every case. … According to our test criteria the system was 30 for 30." The U.S.-based Institute for Defense Analyses has compared 15 active protection anti-missile systems and ranked Trophy at the top.

The system adds about a ton to a tank's weight and costs about $350,000 per vehicle, UPI reported. It can operate from both a stationary and a moving tank and can engage several threats at the same time.

It is currently installed on several tanks in the 401st Armored Brigade and will equip a full armored battalion by 2010. In addition it will be installed on all new Merkava IVs as part of the production line by the end of the year.

Several foreign military representatives were present at last week's tests, according to the Jerusalem Post. Rafael believes it has good prospects of selling the system to other militaries. The U.S. Department of Defense has a contract with Raytheon to develop an equivalent active protection system, known as Quick Kill. A prototype is supposed to be ready this year for installation on current armored vehicles. The U.S. Army resisted proposals to battle test the Trophy system in Iraq in 2007.


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