Mid-air blast tank shell winner of Defense Prize

Kalanit can explode midair over hiding terrorists and can breach concrete walls; shell has been successful in hitting Gaza terror cells.

July 6, 2011 21:29
2 minute read.
The Kalanit tank shell.

kalanit tank shell_311. (photo credit: Israel Military Industries)


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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.

The 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.

IDF to test overhead exploding shell
IAF aircraft attack terror tunnel in northern Gaza

“It 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 award.

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 Division.

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 shrapnel.

According to Lt.-Col. M., the shell has already been used in operations in the Gaza Strip and has successfully hit Palestinian terror cells.

“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 said.

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 fire.

Its high level of accuracy is also key in minimizing collateral damage.

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