Courtesy: Ministry of Defense
TROPHY system in action
Courtesy: Ministry of Defense
Photo: Reuters
US armored vehicle in Baghdad
Photo: Reuters

Report: US army blocks use of RAFAEL defense system

NBC reports Pentagon urges trial use of Israeli TROPHY system for AFVs in Iraq but army blocks testing, may have presented misleading information to Congress to ensure purchase of US system only available in 2011

WASHINGTON - NBC news reported on Tuesday that the US army is actively trying to block the purchase of an Israeli-developed defense system designed to counter RPG attacks, opting instead to wait for the completion of an American made system manufactured by the Raytheon Company, which will only be ready for use in 2011.


The report is now stirring public and administrative debate questioning whether the use of the Israeli system could have saved the lives of many American soldiers killed by RPG missile attacks.


The TROPHY system is an active protection system for AFVs that rapidly detects and tracks incoming RPG threats, analyzes them, estimates the optimal intercept point in space and then neutralizes it away from the vehicle using metallic particles.


The product has been in development for over a decade but the IDF, due to budgetary concerns, did not acquire it until after the second war in Lebanon. After the war, during which many IDF tanks were seriously damaged by RPG attacks, the IDF changed its position on the subject and according to various publications has decided to purchase the system.


Over the course of the past three years US commanders have repeatedly demanded a system that could eliminate the RPG threat which has caused numerous American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon examined several systems and decided that the TROPHY system would provide the best solution to the problem.


Main problem - time element

The Pentagon tested the system some 30 times and found it is "more than 98 percent" effective at eliminating RPGs. Officials then made plans to test the system in the field in Iraq this year. But then the US Army shot down the plan, saying that the system wasn't ready for use.


Six months ago NBC interviewed several top US officers who voiced their criticism of the Israeli system, saying that it wasn't safe or effective. The NBC report also claims that officers who testified before Congress on the matter presented gravely misleading information in their presentations.


NBC Senior Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers spoke with IDF Brig. Gen. Amir Nir and visited RAFAEL in Israel where she saw the system herself. According to Myers' investigation claims made by US officials before Congress regarding several crucial technical specifications proved to be false.


Following a previous NBC report in 2006 the US Army explained its decision to not use the Israeli system, saying that they were concerned for the safety of the troops. However in Myers' interview with Brig. Gen. Nir the senior officer says that in field experiments the risk the system posed to soldiers was determined as no more than one percent.


According to NBC's sources within the Pentagon the US Army officials consider TROPHY a threat to the USD 160 billion RPG defense system being developed by the Raytheon Company. The Army is currently paying Raytheon USD 70 million to build the system from scratch. Choosing to implement the TROPHY system would effectively kill the project.


The main problem at the moment proves to be the time element, with the Raytheon system only due for completion sometime in 2011.


NBC is expected to broadcast the second part of the investigative report on Wednesday evening.



פרסום ראשון: 01.10.07, 19:45
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