Active Protection for Israeli AFVs – More than Hard Kill

Aspro A (Trophy) mounted on Merkava Mk4M. Photo: Rafael

Israel’s involvement in the field of Active Protection Systems (APS) span over two decades, as the Merkava Program Office, managed by the Ministry of Defense and IDF Ordnance Corps, realizing that the Israeli tank, heavy as it was, could not continue adding more passive or reactive protection to match evolving threats, particularly in an asymmetric scenarios, where threats could be coming in 360 degrees. These investments are bearing fruits today. Israel’s first APS – Rafael’s Trophy has entered operational deployment last year, and has already proved itself in combat. A more versatile system, IMI’s Iron Fist, recently demonstrated impressive capabilities in intercepting anti-tank missiles and kinetic penetrators in live firing tests in Israel and overseas.

The introduction of the ‘modular armor system’ first employed in the Merkava Mk 3, and radically improved in the Mk 4, provided the first step in this direction. The system employs basic structural shell armor, applied with modular protection elements designed to meet specific threat levels. Unlike add-on protection that mounts on existing armor, adding significantly to the vehicle’s weight, the new elements replace existing armor modules, therefore maintaining minimal weight increase. A similar concept has also been developed for the Merkava-based Infantry Fighting Vehicle ‘Namer’. ‘Trophy’ was integrated into the Merkava armor shield without significantly changing the tank’s silhouette, or exceeding the turret’s contour. Providing hemispheric coverage, the system is contained in two modules, on both sides of the turret.

While the APS dramatically enhance the survivability of the tank, particularly against the modern, tandem anti-tank rockets and missiles, it also offers major advantage in terms of situational awareness and battle management. For the first time a major land-weapon system is equipped with an integral sensor, augmenting the capability of the crew to detect and localize threats – a capability fighter planes and combat vessels obtained half a century ago…

Aspro A (Trophy) mounted on Merkava Mk4M. Photo: Rafael

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