Armor: Israel Defends Against ATGMs

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September 8, 2007: Israel is apparently equipping all of its tanks, and many armored personnel carriers, with the Trophy APS (Active Protection System.) This is part of the reforms prompted by encounters with Russian Kornet anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) last Summer, when 22 Merkava tanks were damaged by the more powerful warheads of these missiles.

The Trophy system consists of a radar, to detect incoming missiles, and small rockets to rush out and disable the incoming threat. A complete trophy system weighs a ton. Russia pioneered the development of these anti-missile systems. The first one, the Drozd, entered active service in 1983, mainly for defense against American ATGMs. These the Russians feared a great deal, as American troops had a lot of them, and the Russians knew these missiles (like TOW) worked. Russia went on to improve their anti-missile systems, but was never able to export many of them. This was largely because these systems were expensive (over $100,000 per vehicle), no one trusted Russian hi-tech that much, and new tanks, like the American M-1, were seen as a bigger threat than ATGMs.

The Israeli Trophy uses better, more reliable, and more expensive technology than the Russian Drozd (or its successors.) For about $300,000 per system, Trophy will protect a vehicle from ATGMs as well as RPGs (which are much more common in combat zones.) Israel is the first Western nation to have a lot of their tanks shot up by modern ATGMs, and apparently fears the situation will only get worse. Israel first encountered ATGM, on a large scale, in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. But these were the clumsy, first generation ATGM. These turned out to be more smoke than fire. But the latest ATGM, like Kornet, are more deadly. So Israel is getting ready.

 


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