For the past 20 years, Rafael Industries has been trying to develop an anti-’anti-tank’ defense system to save the lives of IDF soldiers in combat. While Israeli citizens have nine Iron Dome batteries scattered around Israel to help protect them from missiles, armored vehicles in the IDF now have their own ‘mini-Iron Dome’ called Trophy.
The Trophy system, locally known as “Wind Jacket”’, is loosely based upon similar technology used by Iron Dome. Wind Jacket is able to detect and neutralize incoming anti-tank missiles or rockets that are expected to hit a tank or other smaller vehicles such as an armored personnel carrier (APC) or jeep.
While automatically nullifying the oncoming threat, without need or time for human intervention, the system simultaneously sends exact coordinates of the attacking party to the tank operator who can then return fire.
Watch: Trophy in Action
Wind Jacket faced its first real test under combat conditions during the past few weeks under Operation Protective Edge, when it prevented five anti-tank missiles from hitting tanks operating in the Gaza Strip. It is the first-of-its-kind active defense system for tanks and APC’s.
The system, since being declared operational in 2009 and combat tested in 2010, has been installed on Merkava 4 tanks, the newest tanks in the IDF Armored Corps fleet, and on the Namer APCs.
Wind Jacket operates automatically with no need for the tank crew to be aware of, or to operate it, in real time. As the system must deploy within less than a second, this is of utmost importance. The incoming missile or rocket is intercepted and detonated at a safe distance from the vehicle, so as to avoid casualties to the crew and damage to the vehicles.
According to a recent report in Globes, “with the successful development of Trophy, Rafael has left many weapons companies around the world, which have been trying for many years to find a solution for the growing threat of anti-tank missiles, in the dust.”
Since the Second Lebanon War, in 2006, the urgency of finding means of reducing the vulnerability of tanks to anti-tank missiles was made a priority, as new anti-tank missiles came into use, including the Russian-made Kornet and Metis missiles, which caused most of the damage to the armored corps in Lebanon.
At a recent ceremony in which Wind Jacket was featured, a senior defense official said; “One of the most impressive things about Trophy is that, the system must react in a fraction of a second, to identify the missile, to shoot, and to destroy it, and on the other hand, it also needs to be super-safe, and it cannot make a mistake and deploy accidentally.”
“This is an automated system, and part of its complexity lies in that it cannot operate against helicopters or other tanks near the vehicle it is defending in the battlefield,” he continued. “Just the fact that it deploys itself in situations when a missile is fired and it must react in a fraction of a second is an extremely impressive technological feat.”
The senior defense official also added that it was equally impressive that no other military or defense establishment has succeeded in creating a combat operational anti-tank missile defense system.
In 2012, Rafael joined teams with RDS Technologies to help adapt the Wind Jacket system to outfit US armored vehicles.