The IDF has completed the installation of the Trophy active protection system on a first brigade of Merkava MK 4 main battle tanks.

The Trophy system, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, creates a hemispheric protected zone around armored vehicles such as the Merkava tank. It successfully intercepted a rocket-propelled grenade last year along the border with the Gaza Strip.

The first brigade to be completely outfitted with the system is the 401st Brigade, which served prominently in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead and in Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War six years ago.

The system is designed to detect and track a threat and counter it with a launched projectile that intercepts the anti-tank missile. The army sped up development of the Trophy following the Second Lebanon War, during which Merkava tanks came under heavy anti-tank missile fire from Hezbollah.

The IDF is now debating whether to begin installing the system on older-model Merkava tanks that are in service or to begin outfitting reserves brigades.

While the installation of the Trophy will continue, the IDF has yet to begin installing a missile defense system on its new Namer armored personnel carrier (APC).

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss issued a report last month slamming the IDF for failing to develop a system for APCs and criticized the Defense Ministry’s decision in 2010 to combine the Trophy with a similar system – called Iron Fist – under development by Israel Military Industries.

Iron Fist launches a projectile that IMI claims makes it effective in intercepting tank shells and not just anti-tank missiles – something Trophy cannot do.

The comptroller’s main criticism centers on the defense establishment’s failure to develop or order an active protection system for the Namer. While Trophy is already being installed on tanks, a decision from 2009 to install Iron Fist on the Namer has been overturned and a replacement has not been found.

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