Trophy tank system could protect helicopters from RPGs

It is one of those development programmes a defence company knows it has to undertake – especially in Israel – protecting helicopters from attack from the ground.

The engineers and technicians work on the project with the knowledge they are doing the right thing.

The problem is international. Helicopters are easy prey for the most simple weapon system such as a shoulder-launched rocket, developed some 30 years ago.

The low-intensity combat – a very bad term in many cases – has proved that guerrilla groups have understood that knocking a helicopter out of the sky is an impressive victory.

Israeli company Rafael developed the Trophy active protection system to save the lives of Merkava tank crews in Israel.

By using integral aircraft systems, Rafael plans to adapt its Trophy system for use on helicopters and transport aircraft.

The Trophy creates a hemispheric zone around the vehicle, where incoming threats are intercepted and defeated. When a threat is detected, identified and verified, the system launches the classified interceptor and it deflects and destabilises the rocket or shell so it does not hit its target.

While Israeli air force helicopters are using EW systems against missiles, there is a need to protect them against weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades, which have downed many helicopters in Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Converting the systems will involve downsizing and changing the way interceptors are launched to defeat the incoming threat.

Although Rafael has not confirmed it has an ongoing programme to adapt the Trophy to aerial applications, officials say the need for such a system on the aerial platform is clear.

Rafael has certainly identified the operational need and it intends to answer it with the building blocks developed for the system operating on the Merkava tanks.

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