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The IDF plans to purchase and install Trophy active protection anti-missile systems on its Merkava tanks by the end of 2007, a high-ranking military officer said Wednesday.
The decision to purchase the systems was made following the war in Lebanon, during which the Armored Crops sustained heavy losses from Hizbullah anti-tank missile squads which damaged 40 Merkava tanks and killed over 30 tank crew members.
Developed by the Rafael Armament Development Authority, the Trophy system creates a hemispheric protected zone around armored vehicles such as the Merkava tank, which operated prominently in Lebanon during the month-long war this past summer. The system is designed to detect and track a threat and counter it with a launched projectile that intercepts the anti-tank missile.
The IDF has asked the Treasury for a budget boost following the war in Lebanon amounting to NIS 10 billion. Part of the money, the high-ranking officer said, would be allocated to install active protection systems like the Trophy on IDF tanks.
While the Ground Forces Command led by Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz has decided to procure the Trophy system, it has also asked other Israeli industries, including Israel Military Industries (IMI), to continue with its development of its own original tank missile defense system, called The Iron Fist.
Claimed to be capable of neutralizing all anti-tank threats, including kinetic shells fired by enemy tanks, the Iron Fist is in its final stages of testing according to IMI CEO Avi Felder and would be operational and ready for mass production by the end of 2007, only a few months behind Rafael's Trophy.
The Iron Fist consists of a radar and passive optical system that detect incoming threats and destroy them by using a combustible blast interceptor within a fraction of a second. Unlike the Trophy which fires off a large number of projectiles, the Iron Fist intercepts incoming threats by using a rocket the shape of a mortar that destroys the threat by using a blast effect which crushes its soft components or deflects the missile or kinetic rod in their flight.