First Israeli APC gets advanced missile defense
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First Israeli APC gets advanced missile defense

Following criticism during 2014 Gaza war, Windbreaker system to be installed on IDF's armored personnel carriers

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The first Namer armored personnel carrier to be outfitted with the 'Windbreaker' missile defense system. (Defense Ministry)
The first Namer armored personnel carrier to be outfitted with the 'Windbreaker' missile defense system. (Defense Ministry)

For the first time, an Israeli armored personnel carrier has been outfitted with the advanced Windbreaker missile defense system, the Defense Ministry announced Thursday.

The active defense system has previously been installed on IDF tanks and saw combat during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, but Me’il Ruah in Hebrew, or Windbreaker, has now been installed on the Namer, or Leopard, armored personnel carrier.

“Over the past few weeks we have completed the integration and adaptation of the Windbreaker system for installation on Namers,” said Brig. Gen. Baruch Matzliah, head of the Defense Ministry’s Merkava Tank Department.

The Windbreaker, which is inexplicably known as the Trophy system outside of Israel, is made up of a radar detection system that spots incoming missiles and predicts their trajectories, and launchers that fire buckshot-like metal pellets, which cause the incoming missile or rocket to detonate away from the tank.

The IDF and Defense Ministry were harshly criticized during Operation Protective Edge for the use of outdated, improperly reinforced armored personnel carriers.

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It was first developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Group and was declared operational in 2009.

The system, which has been used on Merkava tanks since 2011, helped prevent the destruction of even a single tank during Protective Edge.

The installation of the system on the Namer is a fairly natural step, as the APC has a Merkava chassis. In addition to meaning leopard, Namer is also an abbreviation formed from the Hebrew words APC (Nagmash) and Merkava.

The Namer is considered by Israel to be the most heavily armored APC in the world.

“At the end of the series of tests taking place over the coming days, we will begin installing the system on additional vehicles. In this way we will fulfill the Defense Ministry’s policy of equipping every Namer that comes off the assembly line with the only operational active defense system in the world,” Matzliah said in a statement.

Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul died in Gaza when his armored personnel carrier was struck by an anti-tank missile on July 20, 2014. (Courtesy)
Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul died in Gaza when his armored personnel carrier was struck by an anti-tank missile on July 20, 2014. (Courtesy)

“A Namer with the Windbreaker will provide the highest possible level of protection to IDF soldiers, and will grant them security and a meaningful advantage on the battlefield,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and six other Golani soldiers were killed on July 20, 2014, when their nearly 50-year-old M113 armored personnel carrier was hit by anti-tank missiles.

The final tests of the Windbreaker system on the Namer will take place in the army’s School for the Infantry Corps in the Negev desert, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

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