If there was scepticism about the initiative, it disappeared. The need simply eliminated it. The USA needs it, other fighting armies need it. Active protection on low-flying aircraft is an urgent operational requirement.
When Flight exposed a few months ago that Rafael plans to adapt its Trophy active protection system for use on helicopters and transport aircraft, some experts raised their eyebrows.
A few days ago, while visiting one of Rafael's main facilities, the issue was raised again. The senior company official was very clear that this time "there will be active protection for low-flying aircraft, simply because there is no alternative".
These words proved again that the Israeli company is already working on adapting the technology used in its Trophy system aimed at protecting tanks and APCs from rockets and shells for aerial use.
The Trophy creates a hemispheric protected zone around the vehicle, in which 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 that 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 RPG rockets. These have downed many helicopters in Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.
Converting the systems will involve downsizing them and changing the way the interceptors are launched to defeat the incoming threat.
The adaptation process is not simple but as the Rafael official put it, "there is no alternative". And when this is the situation, a company such as Rafael is at its best. Rafael managed to field the "Iron Dome" system that protects Israeli cities from rockets, three years after a decision to develop it was taken.