trophy tank system 248.88.
(photo credit: Courtesy: IDF)
It happened so quickly and functioned so flawlessly that the IDF tank crews
doing routine duties last Tuesday near the security fence in the southern Gaza
Strip frontline didn’t even notice anything unusual.
immediately realize that they had just witnessed history in the making and that
the lives of a fourman crew had been spared when the miniature Trophy system,
fixed onto all tanks in the Gaza sector, recognized that a rocket propelled
grenade (RPG) had been launched at one of the tanks.
the RPG with a neutralizer and blew up the incoming projectile in mid-air, with
no harm wrought to either the tank or to the corpsmen in its belly.
system quickly reloads in a fully automated process. It’s “smart” enough to hold
fire if an RPG is about to miss its target. Moreover, the explosion it sets off
is so small that friendly-fire casualties are highly unlikely.
Trophy’s premiere matters not only for Israel but globally. This was the first
time that antitank fire had been successfully intercepted under real combat zone
conditions, as distinct from controlled trials. The implications both to Israel
and its allies cannot be overestimated.
Rocketry that is easy to carry is
a favorite weapon for terrorists and a whole host of irregulars – from Hamas and
Hezbollah on our own doorstep to the roadside-ambushers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Trophy (known locally as Me’il Ruah – windbreaker in Hebrew) could radically
alter the balance of power on both the Lebanese and Gaza fronts and it could
become crucial for US and allied forces battling al-Qaida and associated
The proven effectiveness of the Israeli breakthrough is a
game-changer and as such is extremely good news – not only for us.
FOR us it is especially meaningful and gratifying.
The antitank rockets,
beginning with the portable Sager, which the Egyptians renamed Fahad in the 1973
Yom Kippur War, had been the bane of the IDF Armored Corps. Until now, the
answers had been increasingly thick steel protective plates for the tanks to
literally dull the blow. But improved rockets proved essentially able to
penetrate any shield and there are limits to how much armor can be piled on a
tank without impeding its movement.
Realizing how deadly portable
hollow-pipe devices can be, both Hamas and Hezbollah stocked up on them,
amassing colossal arsenals. In the Second Lebanon War in 2006, dozens of Israeli
tanks were struck, 19 crewmen were killed and others wounded.
Israel’s enemies were arming themselves to the teeth, Israel’s scientists –
foremost at Raphael – were busy re-accentuating the country’s qualitative
military edge, which had sometimes appeared to be fading.
sends a message to Israelis at home and to friends and foes abroad: do not
underrate us. We can spring back and we are a force to be reckoned
It’s important that Israel’s allies especially appreciate this.
There are perennial doubts here and discordant gripes in America about our value
as partners. Among the chief factors that demonstrate Israel’s unique importance
as a viable democratic mainstay is our technological achievements. We do not
only receive – as narrowminded US critics carp. We also give. The newest Israeli
contribution to the modern battlefield will eventually not only save more
Israeli lives, but the lives of many Americans too.
To be sure, at this
stage, the Trophy is pricy, costing NIS 1 million per tank, but it is an
eminently worthwhile expense. The Trophy is perceived as the harbinger of the
future in ground warfare, being the first operational active defense system, and
capable of granting Israel a new strategic advantage.
It is not alone. In
the works is the Iron Fist, an antimissile defense that is being custom-designed
for armored personnel carriers. Its jamming capabilities can swerve an oncoming
rocket off course, or it can detonate it with shock waves.
Lots more is
being concocted in Israeli labs, workshops and testing grounds. Despite our
proven penchant for fault-finding and self-deprecation, this is a fitting
occasion for unstinting collective pride. Our defenses and those who man them
are, mercifully, a little more secure today in the face of our enemies.
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