Trophy (countermeasure)

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Trophy's radar and dummy launcher
Merkava Mk 4m Windbreaker with the Trophy APS during Operation Protective Edge.

Trophy (also known as ASPRO-A, Israel Defense Forces designation מעיל רוח, lit. "Windbreaker") is a military active protection system (APS) for vehicles. It intercepts and destroys incoming missiles and rockets with a shotgun-like blast. Trophy is the product of a ten-year collaborative development project between the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries' Elta Group. Its principal purpose is to supplement the armor of light and heavy armored fighting vehicles.

Design[edit]

As of 2012 the system was being integrated onto Israeli Merkava main battle tanks. The design includes the Elta EL/M-2133[1] F/G band fire-control radar with four flat-panel antennas mounted on the vehicle, with a 360-degree field of view. When a projectile is detected, the internal computer calculates an approach vector almost instantly, before it arrives. Once the incoming weapon is fully classified, the computers calculate the optimal time and angle to fire the neutralizers. The response comes from two rotating launchers installed on the sides of the vehicle which fire neutralizing agents, usually small metal pellets like buckshot. The system is designed to have a very small kill zone, so as not to endanger personnel adjacent to the protected vehicle.

The system is designed to work against all types of anti-tank missiles and rockets, including handheld weapons such as rocket propelled grenades. The system can simultaneously engage several threats arriving from different directions, is effective on stationary or moving platforms, and is effective against both short- and long-range threats. Newer versions of the system include a reload feature for multiple firings. The Trophy development plan includes an enhanced countermeasure unit to be available in the future for protection against kinetic energy penetrators.

Advantages[edit]

The primary role of Trophy is defense against missile strikes, particularly for lighter armored personnel carriers, which are very vulnerable to rocket attacks. Use of Trophy on the Stryker vehicle will remove the need for heavy slat armor to defend against high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warheads, and allow a battle-ready vehicle to fit into a C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft; slat armor must be removed before the vehicle is loaded into the plane and reattached at the destination, which takes over 100 hours of cutting and welding, impractical under combat conditions. The reduction in size due to omission of the armor will improve the vehicle's ability to negotiate urban areas.

Trophy Light[edit]

A new version called "Trophy Light" was unveiled by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems at Britain’s DSEi 2007. While the standard Trophy was designed for main battle tanks, Trophy Light is designed for integration with light and medium armored vehicles, such as Rafael's Golan. 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. It is expected to be about half the weight and volume of the standard Trophy and cost less. According to Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the development will only require design and engineering work on the launcher/loader and munitions.[2][3]

Trophy LV[edit]

In June 2014, Rafael unveiled Trophy LV, a new application of the system, which allows relatively small vehicles, such as Jeeps, operating regularly in defense situations to be protected from RPGs and anti-tank missiles.

Tests by the United States[edit]

MSNBC has reported that there is resistance to incorporating Trophy in the US Army. The U.S. Department of Defense has contracted with Raytheon to develop an equivalent system, Quick Kill, which will not be ready before 2011 at the earliest (but now declines to say whether it still is on course to meet that deadline),[4] whereas Trophy could be deployed much sooner. Quick Kill is more similar to Israel's other developing active protection system, Iron Fist. According to MSNBC's sources, the reason for not adopting Trophy for now is that it would remove the need for the Raytheon program.[5]

The Institute for Defense Analyses analyzed 15 active protection systems, including Trophy and Quick Kill, and found Trophy to be the top system. In March 2006, Pentagon testers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren tested Trophy. An official involved with the tests told NBC that Trophy “worked in every case. The only anomaly was that in one test, the Trophy round hit the RPG’s tail instead of its head. But according to our test criteria, the system was 30 for 30.”[6]

The Government Accountability Office has since reviewed the Army's actions and issued a report that concluded that the Army and Boeing, the FCS lead systems integrator, followed the regulations to avoid conflicts of interest; that although Raytheon's technology is not mature, the Army estimated that a prototype for current vehicles could be delivered by 2009; that Army officials found Trophy tests to be unrealistic, and worried that integrating Trophy would delay fielding other capabilities.[7]

According to the DOD Buzz the United States will be testing the trophy system on a Stryker vehicle in 2010.[8]

On February 28, 2011, Trophy manufacturer, Rafael, announced that the system completed a successful evaluation in the USA. An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Stryker Armored Fighting Vehicle fitted with TROPHY, a Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Active Protection System, withstood numerous missile and rocket attacks under a six-week test and evaluation program by the office of the US Secretary of Defense.[9]

Rafael has announced a partnership with DRS Technologies. At the center of the partnership between the two companies is adapting Trophy for the US Army’s Ground Forces.[10] General Dynamics Land Systems planned to host a demonstration of a version of the Trophy in mid-October 2013. GDLS hopes to integrate the system onto the Canadian LAV III and American Ground Combat Vehicle.[11] By then, the Trophy system had completed a 10-month vehicle integration and live fire testing program. After mobility tests, the integrated LAV III underwent 3 months of live-fire tests. Trophy was faced with rocket propelled grenade, recoilless rifle, and anti-tank guided missile fire in different short range, moving vehicle, multiple threat, and high clutter engagement scenarios. Collateral damage, residual penetration, vehicle and crew safety, and electronic safe/arm performance data was also collected. Trophy's successful performance and ability to be integrated with the vehicle demonstrated the maturity of Active Protection technology.[12]

Combat history[edit]

IDF Merkava Mk. IV tank with Trophy APS

Following the series of tests of the Trophy system, the IDF Ground Forces Command declared the Trophy operational in August 2009.[13] It was scheduled to be installed in an entire battalion of Israeli Armored Corps tanks by 2010.[14]

On March 1, 2011, stationed near the Gaza border, a Merkava MK IV equipped with the trophy system foiled a missile attack aimed toward it and became the first operational success of the trophy active defense system.[15] On March 20, 2011, a missile was fired toward a Merkava MK IV tank equipped with trophy system inside the Israeli area along the perimeter fence of the Gaza Strip, the system identified the shooting, but calculated that it did not endanger the tank, and no intercept occurred. The system passed information about the shooting and the tank crew returned fire toward the source of fire.[16][17][18] On August 1, 2012, Trophy-"Windbreaker" successfully intercepted an anti-tank missile launched from the Gaza Strip toward a Merkava tank near Kissufim junction.[19] On July 14, 2014, the trophy system successfully intercepted a Kornet anti-tank missile fired from Gaza at an IDF tank.[20] Since the beginning of the Israeli Operation Protective Edge to July 20, 2014, at least four Israeli tanks of senior commanders were saved by the trophy system in the Gaza Strip.[21] According to reports from the front, since the beginning of the ground operation, the system successfully intercepted five anti-tank missiles that were aimed at armored IDF vehicles in Gaza.[10] On July 22, 2014, according to a video by a Palestinian group, the trophy system installed on a merkava IV tank supposedly failed to react when a RPG-29 rocket fired at the tank. [22] Others point out that the video actually shows how the trophy system on the Merkava IV tank successfully intercepted the RPG. [23] According to Debkafile Hamas has tried to stop Israeli tanks with two kinds of advanced guided anti-tank missiles, the Russian Kornet-E, and the 9M113 Konkurs, but the Windbreaker intercepted them successfully. [24]

Possible countermeasures[edit]

On November 12, 2009, PhD Vladimir Korenkov, who led Russian state unitary enterprise “Basalt” from 2000 to 2009, stated that “The Israeli system of active protection of tanks, “Trophy”, as any other similar systems, can be evaded”. One of the activities of this enterprise was to develop rocket-propelled grenades, designed to destroy modern armament. The rocket-propelled grenade RPG-30, according to Vladimir Korenkov, is designed to overcome these tank defense systems.[25]

In response to concerns that the RPG-30 had fallen into the hands of Hezbollah fighters, Israel Defense reported that the Rafael weapons development authority developed a defense system called the "Trench Coat" that can counteract the RPG-30, by utilizing a 360-degree radar to detect all threats and, in the case of one, launch 17 projectiles, one of which should strike the incoming missile.[26]

Cost[edit]

The Trophy "Heavy" system costs around $300,000 to mount on a Merkava 4M.[27]

Related[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ http://www.defense-update.com/products/t/trophy.htm
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Israel field-tests effective anti-RPG weapon – Lisa Myers & the NBC News Investigative Unit – MSNBC.com
  5. ^ Army shuns system to combat RPGs – Lisa Myers & the NBC News Investigative Unit – MSNBC.com
  6. ^ Experts contradict Pentagon on anti-RPG tests – Lisa Myers & the NBC News Investigative Unit – MSNBC.com
  7. ^ Analysis of Processes Used to Evaluate Active Protection Systems GAO-07-759
  8. ^ Colin Clark, US to try Israeli tank protector, DoD Buzz, October 25, 2010
  9. ^ http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/release/3/123048/trophy-demos-capabilities-against-real-missile.html
  10. ^ a b http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-debut-for-anti-tank-missile-defense-system-1000956678
  11. ^ US-Israeli Team To Demo APS for Canada - Defensenews.com, 15 October 2013
  12. ^ DRS Technologies completed tests with LAV-III armoured fitted with Active Protection System Trophy - Armyrecognition.com, 26 October 2013
  13. ^ Katz, Yaakov (August 6, 2009). "Anti-tank missile defense system operational". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved August 6, 2009. 
  14. ^ Weiss, Efrat (August 7, 2009). "IDF successfully tests new tank defense system". Ynetnews. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  15. ^ IDF armor-defense system foils attack on tank for first time Haaretz, By AMOS HAREL, 01/03/2011 20:11
  16. ^ http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4044891,00.html
  17. ^ http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4044859,00.html
  18. ^ http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/223/833.html
  19. ^ ZITUN, YOAV. "IDF tank-shield intercepts missile". News Article. YNetNews. 
  20. ^ https://twitter.com/IDFSpokesperson/status/488689587422650368
  21. ^ http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/heavy-fighting-in-gaza-30-enemies-killed/2014/07/20/
  22. ^ http://azkojatakoja.persiangig.com/files/rpg.mp4/download
  23. ^ http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f0a_1406051216
  24. ^ http://debka.com/article/24124/A-“humanitarian”-ceasefire-would-give-Hamas-time-to-find-answers-for-Israeli-Chariot-4’s-Windbreaker-armor
  25. ^ Russian The Israeli system of active protection of tanks, “Trophy”, as any other similar systems, can be evaded, APMC-TACC, November 12, 2009
  26. ^ Benari, Elad. Israel7 "http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/153102#.T0icm_WAna8 Israel7". Israel National News. 
  27. ^ ZITUN, YOAV. "Army prepares for budget cuts". News Article. YNetNews. 

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