Merkava 4 Equipped with "Trophy" Defeats an RPG on the First Combat Engagement of an Active Protection System

IDF Merkava Mk 4 equipped with Rafael's Trophy (ASPRO-A) APS are now deployed along the Israeli border with Gaza. Photo: MOD

With the deployment of Merkava Mk 4 tanks equipped with Rafael Defense Systems’ Trophy (ASPRO-A) Active Protection Systems (APS) along the Gaza border last month (January 2011), that followed a Merkava tank being hit by a Kornet anti-tank missile fired by the Palestinians, battle testing of the Trophy APS was only a matter of time. Today (1st March 2011), the system was baptized in combat, proving its worth in a first combat engagement with a hostile RPG, fired by Palestinain anti-tank team from Gaza. The system and crew performed exactly as expected, integrating automatic response to neutralize an immediate threat, rapid situational understanding and decision and forcible response, effectively eliminating the threat.

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Part of the active protection system integrated on Merkava Mk4 includes the Trophy active protection system's interceptor (in the background), WindGuard flat-panel radar (in the front) and Laser warning system (on the left). Photo: Defense-Update

According to IDF sources, the Merkava tank was patrolling the border with Gaza, when a ‘missile launch’ was detected by the tank’s defensive system. Trophy uses the Elta System’s EL/M 2133 ‘WindGuard’ radar as the primary sensor detecting missiles and RPG threats. When such threat is classified by the system as ‘acute’ (aimeing directly at the protected vehicle), the system alerts the crew and tracks the missile closing-in on the tank. As the RPG enters the system’s kill-zone, Trophy automatically activates its hard kill countermeasure (Multiple Explosive Formed Penetrators – MEFP), destroying the threat at a safe distance from the tank. Some reports indicated the intercept was close enough to trigger the tank’s automatic fire ‘Spectronix’ protection, which have lead to Palestinian claims of actually hitting the tank. Shortly afterwards, IDF soldiers identified several terrorists in the launching area and fired in their direction, scoring a hit.

An Israeli Merkava Mk4 tank seen at a training area in the Golan height. Note the non-explosive training module replacing the trophy's explosive countermeasure on training activities. Photo: Rafael

Such a procedure is inherently supported by the Trophy. Beside its role as the Trophy’s primary sensor, detecting the threat and calculating Time-to-Impact (TTI) and plotting the optimal intercept point, the Windguard radar also localizes the firing position of the missile being tracked, enabling the IDF troops to rapidly engage active enemy positions, eliminating follow-up attacks on its armor. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006 more than 40 tanks were hit, most of them by anti-tank missiles, repeatedly fired by Hezbollah from hidden positions that were difficult to detect by IDF tank crews. Following this conflict, the IDF accelerated the development of Active Protection Systems (APS), and is currently fielding the system with tank battalions, being equipped with 2

new armored vehicles. This includes new Merkava Mk4 tanks being equipped with APS and the new Namer Infantry Fighting Vehicles which will also mount the system. A different version of Rafael’s Trophy has recently completed a six-weeks test evaluation series on a Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicle, withstanding numerous missiles and rockets attacks. The test was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Office of Secretary of Defense and the U.S. ARMY at Aberdeen Proving Ground, as part of an evaluation of domestic U.S. and foreign APS solutions. Rafael is also developing a compact vesion of the system called Trophy Light, being evaluated for use with U.S. MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (MATV). The system is also being evaluated for the protection of Israel Navy fast patrol boats, which, like the tanks, are exposed to RPG and missile attacks.

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Israeli Trophy Completes Successful U.S. Evaluation

For the OSD evaluation Rafael has integrated the TROPHY System on an IDF Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicle utilizing a new configuration optimized for the up-armored version of the vehicle. The Stryker system visible here comprises of two types - the standard ASPRO-A on the vehicle's left side and the new TROPHYLIGHT on the left, both systems are linked to the 'WindGuard' radar, (two of the four panels are visible here). Both countermeasure units are adapted to match the latest add-on hybrid armor modules developed by Rafael for the Stryker. Photo: RAFAEL

An ISRAEL Defense Forces (IDF) Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicle fitted with the ASPRO-A (TROPHY) Active Protection System developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems successfully completed a series of evaluation tests at the U.S. Army Aberdeen proving Ground, as part of foreign APS evaluation mandatded by the U.S. Congress and Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD). During the six week testing, the system withstood numerous missiles and rockets attacks. Rafael’s TROPHY is an operational Active Protection System (APS) currently fielded on the IDF Merkava Mk4 main battle tanks. The system passed its first combat engagement yesterday, successfully intercepting an RPG fired at a Merkava tank by a Palestinian guerillas. The TROPHY Situational Awareness and Active Protection Hard Kill System, operates in three major stages: threat detection, threat tracking, followed by hard kill (HK) countermeasure (Multiple Explosive Formed Penetrators – MEFP) activation and threat neutralization. The countermeasure activation takes place only if the threat trajectory is aimed to hit the platform. In addition to the Active Protection, the TROPHY System provides the location of the threat’s 4

launching point to the vehicle’s Battle Management Systems (BMS) and/or Remote Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS), thus enabling quick engagement with the target. The recent tests in the U.S. were part of a broader evaluation of several APS from different vendors, including the South-African LEDS 150 system developed by Saab, the Israeli Iron-Fist from IMI, the TRAPS, produced by Textron Systems and Iron Curtain, developed by the u.S. company ARTIS. Other systems being tested were the FCLAS and IAAPS developed in the U.S. in the mid 2000s. Trophy was the last of seven systems tested as part of the program since 2009. For the OSD evaluation Rafael has integrated the TROPHY System on an IDF Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicle utilizing a new configuration optimized for the vehicle. The Stryker system comprised the regular four panel ‘WindGuard’ radar, and two countermeasure units positioned on each side of the vehicle. “We chose to be evaluated on a Stryker to show TROPHY’s diversity – on one hand the system protects Merkava 4 MBT along Israel’s borders and on the other hand it can protect light and medium Armored Fighting Vehicles as they are part of the current battlefield” said Giora Katz, Corporate VP and General Manager of Land and Naval Sector at Rafael. During the intensive six-week test program the system demonstrated its worth under complex combat scenarios, intercepting a variety of advanced threats from Anti-Tank Rockets (ATRs) and Guided Missiles (ATGMs), including those equipped with tandem warheads (defeating contemporary reactive armor protection). Test results were presented by OSD test manager to senior OSD and U.S Army representatives in a VIP day, on January 25th, 2011.

TROPHY LIGHT was integrated on the Stryker armored vehicle integrated. Photo: Rafael

Rafael is currently developing another version known as TROPHY LIGHT, under an evaluation contract for the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) to be demonstrated on a Mine Protected Ambush Resistant (MRAP) All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV). Beside offering the protection level required by the servcie, the application of such system on a smaller and lighter vehicle requires minimal modification to the vehicle, maintaining the system’s cost at acceptable level. For this evaluation, TROPHY-LIGHT will be evaluated along with the TRAPS, representing a non-kinetic RPG protection solution. 5

Trophy Light a new version of RAFAEL's active protection system, unveiled at RAFAEL's
display at DSEi 07 is based on the Trophy system, currently in production for Israel's Merkava tanks. Trophy Light is designed for integration with light armored vehicles, such as RAFAEL's Golan. The system will offer high probability of kill against advanced threats, including the most sophisticated shoulder-fired anti-tank rocket propelled grenades (RPG). The system utilizes the same operating principles of the Trophy, at scaled down proportions, facilitating installation on smaller, light armored vehicles, and operation at shorter ranges, therefore adapting to the typical operating environment of light armored vehicles. According to sources at RAFAEL, the development is a low-risk endeavor, as Trophy Lite will require only design and engineering work on the launcher/ loader and munitions. It is expected to weigh about half the weight of the standard Trophy, originally designed for main battle tanks. The system will use the same Elta radar used with the Trophy, and will employ electronic enhancements contributing to significant improvement in combat effectiveness. Trophy Lite is also expected to cost less, positioning it at a competitive advantage in the growing APS market.

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