IsraelDefense learned that the director of the Ministry of Defense has decided to force Rafael and IMI into integrating their respective anti-tank missile interceptor systems: Trophy and Iron Fist. The decision calls for the new system to be integrated with Elta’s radar (Elta is part of Israel Aerospace Industries and the radar is part of Rafael's Trophy system) and Iron Fist's interceptor (produced by IMI). In addition, the C2 system, which is based on the Trophy's C2 system, will be manufactured by Rafael.
The debate over which active defence system to mount on IDF APCs and future tanks has preoccupied the MoD for several years.
The two competing systems are based on the principle of active defence, that is, launching a weapon towards an attacking missile and intercepting it before it reaches the protected vehicle. Rafael's Trophy scatters small metal balls around the armored fighting vehicle (AFV), while Iron Fist counterlaunches an anti-missile interceptor at the incoming weapon. Trophy uses Elta's detection radar and Iron Fist employs radar technology made by Rada Electronic Industries.
For several years, the MoD's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure had a part in financing the development of the two systems. However, in November 2010, it decided to freeze its participation in the Iron Fist project, at the same time as the first Merkava Mark IV tanks began to receive Trophy Active Defense Systems. Trophy successfully intercepted RPG's fired at tanks along the Gaza border last March.
In light of the deliberatons over the future defense system, the IDF and the MoD, delayed their decision regarding which system to mount on the new Merkava APCs (Namer APCs). On the one hand, Trophy has proved itself technologically. On the other, Iron Fist provides a solution that is believed to cause less environmental damage and is effective against kinetic energy penetrators. At United States testing grounds last April, Iron Fist historically intercepted two Russian-made AT-7 Metis short-range guided missiles.
The plan to merge IMI into Rafael was intended to facilitate the integration of the systems, but the ministries of finance and defense have put the plan on ice. In recent discussions, the defense ministry's director, Brigadier General (Ret.) Udi Shani, decided to force IMI and Rafael to integrate their systems after it was made clear to them that IDF would procure neither system separately. The two companies are still studying the implications of this decision. Sources in both companies claim that "the two systems cannot be integrated since they are built on entirely different technologies," but a senior figure in the defense ministry stated that "integration of the systems can easily be carried out."
The debate over Trophy-Iron Fist integration aside, Rafael is pursuing its program to turn Trophy into a family of anti-tank missile interceptors.
The first system, Trophy HV (Heavy Vehicle), was originaly developed to protect Merkava Mark IVs and perhaps Merkava APCs. Another model, Trophy MV (Medium Vehicle), is designed for relatively light APCs, most of which travel on wheels rather than treads.
A new model, Trophy LV (Light Vehicle), is being marketed to foreign armies (and may be acquired by the IDF) for jeeps and other light vehicles, for which protection is vital (senior level tactical headquarters, for example).
Trophy LV weighs 200 kilos, comapred to the 550 kilos and 850 kilos of the heavier models.
Photo (Right): "Iron Fist" system (Photo: IMI)