The Future is Now..
Israel continues to be a world leader in force protection. Details the last few months have been emerging that Iron Fist, our next generation APS to protect light & medium armored vehicles from RPGs, missiles, and even perhaps tank fired rounds is headed for deployment shortly. Israel is already a leader in the field with the Raphael developed and now seeing deployment to Merkava Mark 4 (and soon to be retrofitted to earlier versions of the tank) Trophy system.
The Trophy made world wide headlines with its ability to create what is described as a ‘virtual shield’ around the armored heavy vehicle, intercepting shaped charge penetrating hand held RPG rounds such as the Russian RPG 7 & RPG9 Vampyr. These weapons are in the hands of terror sponsoring nations & have been proliferated to terrorists & insurgents across the Middle East. These advanced penetrators have taken their toll on both Israeli Armor in Lebanon as well as American vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Next to IED road side bombs, this is the number one threat and killer of US Servicemen in these conflicts.
While there is some overlap with Trophy, the Iron Fist was designed to protect lighter vehicles. It will be able to be fitted to troop movers like APCs and even lighter vehicles like the Humvee or supply trucks, providing protection against a larger number of threats beyond the RPG & anti tank missile..
Jane’s Defense: [...] in addition to the threat posed by hand-held anti-tank weapons and anti-tank guided missiles, Iron Fist is also being developed to counter high-velocity, long-rod penetrators fired by tank guns and to combat soft- as well as hard-kill anti-tank guided missiles. Moreover, it is also being developed to provide a basis for greater situation awareness and, consequently, for effective counter-fire against threat launchers.
Like other APSs, Iron Fist incorporates radar for threat detection and tracking. Its radar system has been developed by the Elta subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, which has also developed the radar of the Rafael Trophy APS already in low-rate initial production for the Merkava Mk 4 tanks. The system includes four flat-panel antennas, which between them not only cover 360 degrees in azimuth but provide what is virtually a hemispherical coverage.
That’s fancy for front, rear, side & top protection from threats, fairly stunning. All this activity takes place in milliseconds with the system detecting & launching its interceptor which does not seek to detonate the incoming threat, but rather deflect it without its detonation reducing collateral damage to soldiers in, on, or around the vehicle. Think of the gunners on light vehicles like APCs or Humvees and the soldiers whom are often found around the vehicles using them as cover during movement & assault.
Defense-Update: Unlike other systems, the Iron Fist uses only the blast effect to defeat the threat, crushing the soft components of a shaped charge or deflecting and destabilizing the missile or kinetic rod in their flight. The interceptor is made of combustible envelope, fully consumed in the explosion. Without the risk of shrapnel, Iron Fist provides an effective, close-in protection for vehicles operating in dense, urban environment. The use of close proximity, rather than “hit to kill” mechanism avoids complex interception techniques and contributes to reduced cost.
One of the main advantages of the Iron Fist is its integration into routine operations. Its sensor provides essential input to situational awareness systems, based on ground radar surveillance, moving target detection, classification and tracking and motion detection. Furthermore, by loading other types of projectiles, such as non lethal, anti-personnel, smoke or illumination, the system can be used in support of routine operation.
This week comments by the IDF indicate that Iron Fist is headed for deployment to Israel’s newest NAMER (Tiger) APCs which are based on the Merkava Mark 4. This Discovery Channel Future Weapons video below gives an amazing overview of the system, and a beautiful look at its employment on a Namer.. Just one of dozens of examples of how Israeli technologies have and going forward will contribute and be employed safeguarding IDF troops and those of Israel’s allies.
Discovery’s Future Weapons on the Iron Fist (8min).