Protective range of Rafael’s Windbreaker system.
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A protective system called Windbreaker was used operationally for the first time yesterday and scored a resounding success, foiling a Palestinian RPG attack on an Israeli tank near the Gaza border.

Made by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Windbreaker was developed five years ago to protect tanks against missile attacks.

But the Israel Defense Forces decided to buy it only after the Second Lebanon War in 2006, which revealed its tanks' vulnerability to such attacks.

The IDF is the first army in the world to equip its tanks with an active defense system - one that shoots down incoming missiles - rather than relying on the passive defense provided by the tanks' heavy armor. The Windbreaker itself is also the first of its kind ever developed.

So far, one battalion has been equipped with the system. In January, after antitank missiles were fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza, the IDF decided to move that battalion to the Gaza border.

Yesterday afternoon, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at one of the battalion's tanks near Kibbutz Nir Oz.

Windbreaker thus saw live action for the first time - and successfully shot down the missile.

The system costs an estimated $200,000 per tank. Several other countries have already expressed interest in purchasing it, and the fact that it has now proven itself in live action is expected to increase demand for it.