kalanit tank shell_311.
(photo credit: Israel Military Industries)
A tank shell that can explode in midair over terrorists hiding behind cover or
alternatively breach concrete walls and explode inside buildings was one of the
winners this week of Israel’s prestigious Defense Prize for 2011.
development of the Kalanit, manufactured by Israel Military Industries, was
pushed to the top of the defense establishment’s list of priorities following
the Second Lebanon War when IDF tanks got hit by dozens of Hezbollah anti-tank
missiles. The Kalanit can be used by Merkava Mk 3 and Mk 4 tanks.
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gives tank crews capabilities they did not have before,” said Danny Peretz, head
of IMI Weapons Development, who was one of three people to win the
Other recipients included Lt.-Col. A. from the Defense Ministry’s
Merkava Program Office, known by its Hebrew acronym Mantak, and
Lt.-Col. M., from the Ground Forces Command Technological
What makes the Kalanit unique is the crew’s ability to choose
between two different modes for the way it wants the shell to detonate. It can
be shot just above anti-tank cells – which usually cannot be effectively
targeted by standard tank shells – then stops in midair and explodes into six
different charges scattering thousands of deadly fragments.
The shell can
also be used against fortified structures which the shell first penetrates and
then explodes inside of. It has the potential to be used against helicopters by
exploding in midair and hitting the aircraft with its wide-dispersion of
According to Lt.-Col. M., the shell has already been used in
operations in the Gaza Strip and has successfully hit Palestinian terror
“Until now, a tank would fire traditional shells at cells which
would have to be extremely accurate, but now due to the dispersion, it can hit
cells even if the shell does not detonate exactly over where they are,” he
Peretz explained that the need for the Kalanit came up because of
the change in the type of warfare Israel faced on the modern battlefield,
particularly asymmetric conflicts.
“We are no longer speaking about just
tanks against tanks, but you need to be able to hit people inside buildings and
people outside where they are approximately hiding,” he said. “The Kalanit can
do both of these missions with the same shell.”
The other advantage of
the new shell is a crew’s ability to load the shell inside the chamber, wait
until it locates an appropriate target, select its mode of detonation and then
Its high level of accuracy is also key in minimizing collateral