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Fire-Breathing Robot among Rafael's New Tech Developments

New robotic system developed by Rafael shoots fiery darts that burn up IED explosive charges. 'Trophy' tank defense system going operational.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/5/2010, 11:15 PM / Last Update: 4/6/2010, 6:47 AM

Rafael

'Pincher,'  a new robotic system designed to disable improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from long distances is in development at Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, and another defensive system, the Trophy active defense for tanks, is in its pilot phase.

Ram Fabian, director of Rafael's Land Warfare Systems, told Defense Update that the 'Pincher' is currently in prototype phase and could become operational next year. Pincher fires pencil sized  pyrophoric rockets at the charge, causing it to burn instead of exploding and thus eliminating the risk of  shrapnel.   

Pincher will join 'Thor,' a system developed by Rafael together with the U.S.'s General Dynamics, which uses a high-energy laser and a 12.7mm machine gun to neutralize IEDs from a safe distance.

Meanwhile, Rafael is placing finishing touches on 'Trophy,' a miniature anti-missile system that detects incoming projectiles and shoots them down before they reach the armored vehicles.

A radical change?
The Trophy system “could radically alter the balance of power if the country goes to war again” and its performance “could also have much wider implications as American troops and their Western allies battle insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Associated Press reported.

"I think people will be watching the Israelis roll this thing out and see if they can get the hang of it," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org website. "The future of the United States army is riding on the proposition that something like this can work."

Pilot project underway
The Trophy will compete with "active defense" systems being developed by manufacturers in the US and elsewhere. Rafael officials said the system has passed more than 700 live tests, and already has been installed in Israeli Merkava 4 tanks in a pilot project.

Israel Military Industries is also producing 'Iron Fist,' an anti-missile defense that is expected to be installed on Israeli armored personnel carriers in 2011. Iron Fist using jamming technology that can make the incoming missile veer off course. Failing that, it can create a 'shock wave' to blow it up.