Israeli armor system stops tank round in field trial: report

14:57, May 04, 2011      

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An Israeli armor defense system successfully hit and destroyed a tank shell in a live-fire trial held in the United States in recent days, Israel Defense Magazine reported on Tuesday.

Developed by Israel Military Industries (IMI), Hetz Dorban ( Porcupine Dart) is an active armor system designed to shield tanks and armored personnel carriers from anti-tank weaponry, according to the report.

In a test at an Army firing range at Aberdeen, Maryland last week, the system intercepted several Matisse anti-tank missiles and a tank round fired at an unmanned armored personnel carrier, the first time in history that a tank round was intercepted and destroyed in mid-flight.

Unnamed military sources confirmed details of the report, and described the trial as a "significant success," an official at Israel Defense told Xinhua on Tuesday.

IMI officials declined to comment on the trial, or to confirm that it had taken place.

The system, which is currently in its final development stage, is slated to join the Meil Ruach (Windbreaker, also known as Trophy) system, a smaller kinetic armor defense system installed earlier this year on Israeli Merkava-model tanks patrolling the border with the Gaza Strip. The radar-based Windbreaker fires small metal slugs at the incoming projectile, detonating its warhead a distance from the vehicle.

In March, Windbreaker, which was developed by Rafael Advanced Systems Ltd., successfully intercepted rocket propelled grenades ( RPGs) fired by militants in two separate incidents along the border.

A senior Israeli military official said after the incidents that Windbreaker "changes the equation in Gaza and along the Israeli-Lebanese border against (Lebanese militant group) Hezbollah's anti-tank threat."

Israel's Defense Ministry had failed to convince Rafael and IMI to cooperate in developing a single armor defense system, according to the report.

The ministry last November ceased its funding for the IMI project, opting to channel more money for the purchase of Windbreaker, a move that prompted IMI's directorate to continue the development via independent financial sources.

But the defense establishment is still mulling which of the two systems is best-suited to protect the Israeli army's future Merkava tanks and armored personnel carriers.

Experts said last week's experiment was an impressive technological achievement by IMI. However, the threat of kinetic projectiles, more common on the conventional battlefield, is much lower than the rising threat posed by anti-tank missiles and rockets used by militants in asymmetric warfare.

Source: Xinhua
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