TEL AVIV — Israel's new, actively protected heavy combat vehicle for engineering missions passed another critical milestone Wednesday with its first platoon-level operational test against anti-tank missile berms.
The June 1 tests were part of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) 188 Brigade drill on the Golan Heights.
They follow a series of tests since the beginning of the year, when the Defense Ministry's Tank Production Office began serial installation of the Trophy Active Protection System (APS) on engineering versions of the Namer, heavy troop carriers built from Israel's Merkava Mk4 main battle tank.
An MoD video of the test shows a combat engineering Namer navigating deep terrain, followed by another vehicle emplacing a self-deployed bridge in support of follow-on forces.
The Israeli-developed Namer vehicle and Trophy, developed by state-owned Rafael, are supported by significant production work in the United States.
General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights, Michigan, is under contract to Israel's Ministry of Defense (MoD) to produce major components and kits for the Namer, with final assembly performed at the Tank Production Office at Israel's Tel Hashomer military compound.
As for Trophy, about 50 percent of the work supporting the life-saving active protection system is performed at C4 Advanced Tactical Systems, Rafael's Orlando, Florida-based subsidiary.
Trophy is designed to neutralize all types of chemical energy threats in flight, from rocket-propelled grenades to high-explosive rounds and tandem warhead anti-tank guided missiles. The system provides 360-degree protection against multiple launchings "while maintaining a pre-defined safety zone for friendly dismounted troops," according to Rafael marketing data.
Industry and operational users have credited it with saving lives in dozens of events since it was first activated in March 2011 and deployed in quantities during Israel's summer 2014 Gaza war.
MoD's Tank Protection Office has developed three different combat engineering versions of the Namer, all of which will be equipped with the Trophy APS. One version is for company commanders and functions as an earth mover; another is for platoon commanders specializing in breakout missions; and the final version features bridging and towing equipment for deputy platoon commanders.
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.