Israel: New weapon system downs Gaza rocket

A new Israeli weapons system knocked down a Palestinian anti-tank rocket in its first combat test March 1, the military said, showing off technology that could protect the heavy vehicles that have been the mainstay of the world’s ground forces for decades.

Palestinian militants said they fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an Israeli tank as it patrolled near the Gaza-Israel border, a frequent occurrence. This time, the “Trophy” system sensed the incoming rocket and fired its own projectile, blowing it up away from the tank, the military said.

Trophy is thought to be the only active defense system of its kind in the world. Up till now, tanks have relied on heavier and thicker armor plating to protect against more powerful anti-tank weapons.

Experts say the active defense concept, if it works consistently, could allow the construction of smaller, lighter and more efficient tanks. Israel began developing the Trophy after its 34-day war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, when guerrillas with simple rocket-propelled grenades hid in alleys and buildings and took potshots at Israeli tanks, hitting dozens and killing at least 19 Israeli tank crewmen. — ap