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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Mar 04th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Israeli tank defense system behind schedule
Israeli tank defense system behind schedule PDF Print E-mail
Written by Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST   
Wednesday, 17 September 2008


Plans to equip IDF tanks with an anti-missile defense system have been postponed by two years due to budgetary and development snags, defense officials said Monday.

According to the officials, the Trophy system, developed by state-owned Rafael, would now likely be installed on Merkava Mk4 battle tanks in 2010 and not this year, as was initially announced following the Second Lebanon War.

During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hizbullah fired thousands of anti-tank missiles at Israeli tanks and infantry units, damaging 40 tanks and killing 30 crew members.

According to a report in Defense News on Monday, tens of millions of dollars had already been invested in the Trophy program over the past eight years and it will take "double that amount" to equip hundreds of tanks in the coming years.

"We hope to start installing several of the systems on tanks in the beginning of next year," a top officer in the IDF's Ground Forces Command told The Jerusalem Post. "The massive fielding though will not happen until sometime in 2010." Industry sources told the Post that the Defense Ministry was mainly to blame for the delays and that Rafael's development of the system was dependent on the schedule it received from the IDF.

"We cannot work on our own," one source said. "The Defense Ministry has over the past two years repeatedly changed its schedule of when it wanted to conduct testing and installation and this has affected the development."

According to the report in Defense News, the Defense Ministry and Rafael only began installing the first systems on Merkava Mk4 tanks in late 2007 for integration and safety tests, the results of which were poor and required revisions to the ministry-provided specifications. As a result, the Trophy system was only installed on Merkava Mk4 tanks in February 2008 and underwent a live-fire test just two months ago.

Hizbullah is believed to have today thousands of Soviet-built Sagger, Cornet and Fagot antitank missiles, the French MILAN and the US-built TOW, all supplied by Iran and Syria. These missiles are usually fired by a two- or three-man team.

Some 400 tanks operated inside Lebanon during the war and while dozens were hit by anti-tank missiles, only 20 were actually penetrated. Following the war, the IDF decided to speed up development of an active-protection system for tanks and armored personnel carriers, with officers claiming in late 2006 that tanks would be equipped with the system by 2008.

The Trophy system creates a hemispheric protected zone around armored vehicles such as the Merkava tank. It is designed to detect and track a threat and counter it with a launched projectile that intercepts the anti-tank missile.

Israel Military Industries (IMI) is also developing its own 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 and is predicted to be declared operational and ready for mass production by the beginning of the next decade.

The Iron Fist consists of a radar and passive optical system that detects incoming threats and destroys them within a fraction of a second by using a combustible blast interceptor. Unlike the Trophy, which fires off a large number of projectiles, the Iron Fist intercepts incoming threats by using a mortar-shaped rocket that destroys the threat by using a blast effect which crushes its soft components or deflects the incoming missile.

Rafael spokesman Amit Zimmer said the Trophy program was being "executed according to the schedule and requirements that were agreed upon between the IDF and the Defense Ministry."

The Defense Ministry spokesman's office said the program's schedule was continuing according to plan.

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1221489040961&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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