The Israel Defense Forces Armored Corps successfully operated its new armor-defense system for the first time on Tuesday, defending a tank from an antitank missile attack on the Gaza border.
On Tuesday afternoon, an antitank missile was fired at a Merkava 4 tank on the border with the Gaza Strip, near Kibbutz Nir Oz in the western Negev. The tank crew then activated the new defense system, Me'il Ruach (Windbreaker), and successfully foiled the attack.
The "Windbreaker" armor-defense system first made its field debut two months ago, after antitank missiles were seen used by Palestinian militants from Gaza, as well as following a strike on an IDF tank with an antitank missile.
Produced by Rafael, "Windbreaker" is an active armor defense system that is being marketed abroad under the name Trophy. The system employs sensors and radar to identify an incoming missile, and dispatches interceptor missiles which neutralize the hostile weapon before it can strike the tank.
The decision to develop the system followed the experience of the Second Lebanon War, in which a number of tanks were damaged by advanced anti-tank missiles fired by Hezbollah guerrillas.
Several groups in the Gaza Strip are known to hold hundreds of different antitank missiles, and the growing ability of Gaza militants to use these missiles may force the IDF to change its combat doctrine on the Gaza border, in order to reduce its exposure to the antitank missiles.