Israel med Trophy anti-rakettsystem i stridsvogner

Hans Rustad

Israel demon­strerte nylig et nytt aktivt for­svars­sys­tem i strids­vog­ner: en radar scan­ner for inn­kom­mende mis­si­ler og fyrer av en liten spreng­lad­ning som uska­de­lig­gjør dem. Sys­te­met kalt Trophy er alle­rede prøve­skutt 700 gan­ger. Hvis det viser seg effek­tivt kan det revo­lu­sjo­nere krig­fø­rin­gen på bakken.

Trophy er bare ett av flere sys­te­mer som er offen­sive for­svars­sys­te­mer. Sam­men med fører­løse dro­ner skjer det en revo­lu­sjo­ne­ring av krig­fø­rin­gen. Israel har alle­rede fører­løse skip som patru­le­rer kys­ten av Gaza.

The Trophy is belie­ved to be the first of a series of so-called “active defense” sys­tems to become ope­ra­tio­nal. Such sys­tems aim to neut­ra­lize threats before they strike the tank. In the past, tanks have relied on increas­ingly thick lay­ers of armor or “reac­tive” tech­no­logy that weakens an incoming rocket upon impact by set­ting off a small explosion.

Israeli weapons maker Rafael, the develo­per of the Trophy, says the sys­tem has been in the works for years, but the bit­ter expe­ri­ence of Israel’s 2006 war against Hez­bol­lah guer­ril­las in Leba­non gave the pro­ject an extra push.

Devel­opers say the Trophy can stop any anti-tank rocket in the for­mi­dable Hez­bol­lah arse­nal, which struck dozens of Israeli tanks and kil­led at least 19 Israeli tank crew­men during their mon­thlong war.

We can cope with any threat in our neigh­bor­hood, and more,” said Gil, the Trophy’s pro­gram mana­ger at Rafael. Citing security con­si­de­ra­tions, the com­pany would not per­mit pub­li­ca­tion of his last name.
Israeli ana­lyst Yiftah Sha­pir said it is pre­ma­ture to tell whether the Trophy can make a major dif­fe­rence, how­e­ver. He said the army must cope with the high costs of the sys­tem and deter­mine exactly how it will be used.

When eve­ryone knows that it works properly, it will change the battle­field,” he said.
Israeli media have said the cost is about $200,000 per tank. Rafael refu­sed to divulge the price of the sys­tem, say­ing only that it’s a “small frac­tion” of the cost of a tank.
Gil and his small team of scien­tists con­duct tests at a site in the outer reaches of Rafael’s spraw­ling hea­dquar­ters in northern Israel — firing rocket-propelled gre­na­des, Sager rock­ets, and TOW and Cor­net mis­si­les at a lone tank set up in front of a mas­sive for­ti­fied wall. The results are ana­ly­zed in a con­crete hut loa­ded with lap­tops and flat-screen monitors.

The tiny Trophy sys­tem, lod­ged behind small rectan­gu­lar pla­tes on both sides of the tank, uses radar to detect the incoming pro­jecti­les and fires a small charge to inter­cept them, said Gil.

After firing, the sys­tem quickly reloads. The entire process is auto­mated, holds fire if the rocket is going to miss the tank, and cau­ses such a small explo­sion that the chan­ces of unin­ten­tio­nally hur­ting fri­endly sol­di­ers through col­la­te­ral damage is only 1 per­cent, the com­pany says.

Pike, the mili­tary ana­lyst, said sys­tems like the Trophy are con­side­red the way of the future for ground war­fare. The tech­no­logy is a key com­po­nent of the U.S. “Future Com­bat Sys­tem,” the mas­ter plan for the Ame­ri­can mili­tary, he said. The U.S. and Rus­sia are devel­o­ping simi­lar systems.

If the tech­no­logy works, he said it will reduce the need for heavy armor on tanks — resul­ting in ligh­ter vehic­les that are easier to trans­port and deploy and are more nim­ble on the battle­field. But, he noted, “it’s a lot easier to get it to work on a test range than it is to get it to work on a battlefield.”

Lova Drori, Rafael’s exe­cutive vice pre­si­dent for mar­ke­ting, said “there is a lot of inte­rest” inter­na­tio­nally in the Trophy and he expects “quite a few custo­mers” in the coming years.

Rafael offi­ci­als said the Trophy has passed more than 700 live tests, and alre­ady has been installed in some Israeli Merkava 4 tanks in a pilot pro­ject.
In a state­ment, the army said “dozens of tanks should be out­fit­ted with the new sys­tem” by the end of the year, adding that Trophy con­tri­bu­tes to “main­tai­ning a stra­te­gic advan­tage over enemy forces.”

More than three years later, the 2006 war con­ti­nues to shake Israel’s defense estab­lish­ment. Upward of 1,000 Lebanese were kil­led in the figh­ting, accor­ding to tallies by the Lebanese govern­ment, huma­ni­ta­rian groups and The Associa­ted Press. In all, 159 Israe­lis were kil­led. The war ended in a stale­mate and is largely viewed in Israel as a defeat.

The Trophy is the latest in a series of new sys­tems. State-owned Israel Mili­tary Indu­stries is pro­du­cing “Iron Fist,” an anti-missile defense that is expec­ted to be installed on Israeli armo­red per­son­nel car­riers next year.

That sys­tem takes a dif­fe­rent approach from Trophy, first using jam­ming tech­no­logy that can make the mis­sile veer off course, and if that fails, crea­ting a “shock wave” to blow it up, said Eyal Ben-Haim, vice pre­si­dent of the company’s land-system divi­sion.
State-run Rafael is also devel­o­ping “Iron Dome,” which can shoot down the short-range Kat­y­usha rock­ets that rai­ned down on Israel in 2006, as well as Hamas rock­ets fired from the Gaza Strip. Iron Dome is expec­ted to be deployed by this sum­mer near Gaza.
The Israeli air force recently unvei­led a squad­ron of unman­ned air­pla­nes capable of reaching Iran, the key backer of Hez­bol­lah and Hamas mili­tants.
Rafael has also devel­o­ped an unman­ned naval boat cal­led the Pro­tec­tor, which it says is alre­ady prow­ling the waters off the Gaza coast. The Israeli navy con­fir­med the Pro­tec­tor is being tested, but gave no furt­her details.

Israeli unveils tank-defense sys­tem of the future

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