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Counter-RPG Weapons System Rejected By Army

Ask any soldier on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan today and he will tell you that one of the most prevalent threats they face daily is that of RPG’s and shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons. The Israelis will surely attest to the same following operations in Lebanon against Hizballah.

Israel has developed a system (Trophy) by their defense firm RAFAEL, and Trophy has been picked up by General Dynamics for further development.

Consider a report by Lisa Myers for MSNBC: Army shuns system to combat RPGs, sent in by ThreatsWatch reader Charlie.

Trophy works by scanning all directions and automatically detecting when an RPG is launched. The system then fires an interceptor — traveling hundreds of miles a minute — that destroys the RPG safely away from the vehicle.

The Israeli military, which recently lost a number of tanks and troops to RPGs, is rushing to deploy the system.

For what it’s worth, if you appreciate that report, then consider this from Defense Tech...from back in May.

To see the tests performed, see RAFAEL's original video presentation on Trophy.

Essentially, a system that has been given a “7 or 8 rating” out of a possible 9 for readiness and effectiveness sits on the shelf un-deployed. While the MSNBC article suggests that there are primarily political and competing contractor interests dominating the decision (there most assuredly is at least a fair amount of that), perhaps other concerns are at play.

The question, considering a US$300-400k price-tag each, is more its weaknesses than its strengths. How can it be defeated?

A commenter at Defense Tech suggested simply getting inside the 10meter minimum range of Trophy.

However, while the system was tested against multiple rockets launched, one was fired as an intentional miss to test the system’s ability to discriminate threatening and non-threatening targets (which it did successfully).

But at what rate of rapid-fire succession would two (or more) RPG’s be able to defeat the system’s ability to reload?

Also, what if anything would need to be sacrificed/modified on existing equipment to make room for the Trophy system?

These appear to be addressable issues in one manner or another, in any event, and appear to the open-source naked eye to be far less problematic than waiting until 2011 for the expected RPG/missile defense system to be fielded by the Pentagon’s already-contracted developer.

Consider the following from the cited MSNBC article:

That timeline has Trophy’s supporters in the Pentagon up in arms. As one senior official put it, “We don’t really have a problem if the Army thinks it has a long-term solution with Raytheon. But what are our troops in the field supposed to do for the next five or six years?”

ThreatsWatch readers with additional input, observations or commentary are invited to continue the conversation in the Comments section in the right hand column.

1 Comment

This is an article that reminds me of the uparmor uproar. Bureaucrats in military procurement dragging their feet. Ignorant journalists pontificating on matters that they are too ignorant and too uneducated to critically describe (hundreds of miles a minute indeed) and systems that are horribly expensive and likely heavy.