IDF, MOD mishandled tank defense development

Gantz ordered two Israeli defense contractors to combine their tank protection systems without proper review of feasibility.

May 1, 2012 14:26
1 minute read.
An IDF exercise in the South

An IDF exercise in the South tanks helicopters 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz’s decision as the deputy commander of the IDF in 2010 to order two Israeli defense contractors to combine their independent tank-protection systems into a single platform was made without the necessary staff work and a proper study of the issue, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss wrote in his latest report released on Tuesday.

The report focused on the development of an active protection system for IDF tanks and armored personnel carriers (APC), which was accelerated after the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Initially, the IDF decided to purchase Trophy – a system developed by Rafael – for its Merkava tanks and Iron Fist – a system developed by Israel Military Industries (IMI) for its Namer APC.

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In 2010, though, Defense Ministry director-general Udi Shani and Gantz – then deputy chief of staff – ordered both companies to join forces, combine their systems and develop one single missile-defense system for tanks and APCs.

“The decision to recommend to the chief of staff to create an integration of both systems was done without a review by the IDF and the Defense Ministry of whether the development of such a system is feasible,” the comptroller wrote in the report.

The systems work differently: Trophy fires off a cloud of countermeasures at an incoming threat that is detected by a radar installed on the tank. Iron Fist launches a projectile that IMI claims makes it also 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.

The comptroller also criticized the Defense Ministry’s decision not to issue an official tender for the development of an active protection system for the Namer that would have required the IDF to conduct a comprehensive review of its capabilities.

“This situation is the result of a flawed decision-making process in the Defense Ministry and the IDF... as well as the Defense Ministry’s failure to abide by the obligation to issue a tender for the development of such a system,” Lindenstrauss wrote.

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