Israel developed a battle tank operated and controlled by teens with Xbox joysticks

TEL AVIV, (BM) – The Carmel battle tank, which is controlled by two crew members using Xbox joysticks and uses artificial intelligence from computer games in its combat control, was presented by Israeli engineers and managers from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), learned

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The Carmel tank is one of three new tanks under development in Israel, one of which will enter service with the Israel Defense Forces in the future.

As the designers of the tank said, when developing it, they tried to take into account the fact that young people who have extensive experience in playing computer simulations come to serve in the Israeli army.

Therefore, when a young man enters the Carmel tank through the rear hatch, he finds himself in a room that looks like the room of a teenager who is fond of computer games.

In front of him is an overview screen that shows what is outside the tank; there are tablet-like devices that allow operators to set the vehicle speed and change weapons. The side of the screen displays up-to-date intelligence information. And the armored vehicle is controlled by a convenient and familiar controller from the Xbox.

The video game functionality in the Carmel tank is not just focused on the user interface. The combat vehicle is equipped with artificial intelligence, which was trained mainly using the game StarCraft II and was integrated into the tank using the Unity game engine and the VBS platform.

The Carmel tank has already been used to train IDF recruits and has shown that young soldiers are easily trained to operate it.

“I don’t want to say that it took them four minutes, but it was a maximum of four hours. To tell the truth, I did not think that it was possible so quickly to bring my already existing skills to effective control of an armored combat vehicle,” said the commander of the battalion of the 7th armored brigade of the IDF Colonel Udi Tsur.

Read more: American Abrams tanks implemented an Israeli active defense system

Israel is also developing new tank systems and integrating them into the American Abrams

The US Army deployed M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks with the Trophy Active Vehicle Protection System to Germany. This Israeli system, developed by Rafael, was recently purchased and used by the US military as we reported on July 30.

Earlier, it was purchased by the Israeli ground forces, where it was equipped with the Merkava Mk 4 and Mk 3 MBTs and Namer infantry fighting vehicles.

US Army in Europe announced that the elements of the first delivered Trophy systems were transported to Europe and installed and pre-tested on eight selected M1A2SEPv2 Abrams, which were obtained as part of the parallel armament and equipment transfer exercise of one armored battalion stored in the Army Prepositioned Stock (APS).

Trophy system tests, which take place at the Bergen-Hohne training ground in Germany, where, after their completion, the systems are to be dismantled and returned to the USA. The main objectives and details of the trials have not been disclosed, but most likely their purpose is – among other things – to check the possibility of quick installation of the Trophy in the field and to test the system itself in the field conditions.

Trophy is an Israeli active hard kill protection system (ASOP) developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (RADS). ASOP systems are designed to provide protection to heavy combat vehicles against missiles fired from anti-tank grenade launchers and anti-tank guided missile launchers.

These systems come in two versions – soft kill, which works non-contact by confusing an incoming missile, and hard kill, which works in contact by physically destroying the missile with its own anti-missile.

The operation of the Trophy is based on the latter principle, where the system detects, tracks and, in the event of a threat collision course, fires anti-missiles to neutralize the danger in a hemispherical sphere at a safe distance from the protected vehicle. The missile is detected using a radar with flat, fixed antennas, which transmits this information to the system computer.

This calculates the necessary technical parameters of the projectile, such as its velocity and trajectory, and determines whether it is a real threat. In addition, the launch site of this missile is also determined, the location of which is transmitted to the fire control system, which allows the crew to finally neutralize the threat.

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When an incoming missile is identified as a threat, an explosive-formed effector (MEFP) is fired from a special launcher, which physically neutralizes it at a distance of 10 to 30 meters from the protected vehicle. According to the declaration, the counter-missile is not to pose a threat to the surroundings of the vehicle, such as its own infantry cooperating with it, or objects and civilians.

What is worth emphasizing, the system is able to counter several targets at the same time thanks to the use of several anti-missile launchers, and the automatic loading system allows them to be used multiple times in a short time. In order to avoid potential damage from shelling and shrapnel, all system components are protected by armored covers.

The Trophy system comes in three different versions for different classes of combat vehicles – light LV for light armored vehicles, medium MV for lighter combat vehicles (10 to 30 tons) and heavy HV for heavy combat vehicles. The most popular version of this system today is the heavy Trophy HV, which is mainly installed on MBTs, including the Abrams. The full weight of this system is 800 kg and it is distributed on both sides of the tower.

The first recipient of this system was the domestic operator in the form of the Israeli army, which in 2007 decided to introduce this system to the equipment of its latest heavy combat vehicles – the Merkava Mk. IV and Namer infantry fighting vehicles. The process of integrating this system began in 2009 and since then the system has been used many times in combat conditions.

Today, virtually every combat vehicle that is to be placed in the area of ​​operations must be equipped with this system. In addition to the two mentioned vehicles, it is also installed on the Merkava Mk 3. Over the course of more than 10 years of service, this system has repeatedly neutralized the threat from incoming missiles, protecting the lives and health of Israeli tankers. At least a dozen successful interceptions have been confirmed, and not a single vehicle equipped with this system has been electrocuted.

In 2017, due to the urgent operational need to equip own tanks with systems of this type, the U.S. The Army conducted its first tests on Abrams tanks, which were completely successful. According to the executive officer of the Ground Combat Systems (GCS) program, Gen. Maj.

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David Basset, who is responsible for implementing active protection for the M1 Abrams, the Trophy system “worked as advertised”. For this reason, this system was chosen as a temporary solution until the ongoing Modular Active Protection System (MAPS) program was completed with the development of a target system of this type.

The Trophy system is the only active vehicle protection system in the world that has been tested and proven in combat conditions and has already boasted 10 years of impeccable line service. Hundreds of hours of operation of this system in the Israeli army, and the full and reliable protection it provided to shielded combat vehicles, prompted the US Army to take an interest in this system for the M1 Abrams MBTs.

In September 2017, the US Department of Defense concluded a contract worth approximately USD 9.9 million with General Dynamics Land Systems, the manufacturer of the M1 Abrams, for the modification of these vehicles in order to install this system on it in the first one to be equipped in the Panzer Brigade. Combat Team (ABCT).

In June 2018, another contract worth up to USD 193 million, this time for the purchase of the first Trophy HV systems, was awarded to Leonardo DRS (the American partner of Israeli Rafael). Three companies are to cooperate closely in the production and integration of these systems: RADS (creator and producer of ASOP), Leonardo DRS (local producer and integrator of ASOP) and GDLS (producer of integrated tanks).

In October 2019, Leonardo DRS (in cooperation with Rafael) announced the delivery of the first Trophy HV systems to the U.S. Army, which opened the way to start the process of integrating the first copies of one of the latest versions of Abrams – M1A2SEPv2 with it. According to available information, provided by both Leonardo DRS and the US Army, it is planned to ultimately acquire these systems for the Abrams tanks of four Armored Brigade Combat Teams.

So, most likely, in the near future, there will be deliveries of other systems of this type, which will be equipped with subsequent armored units of the American army, and subsequent versions of Abrams, such as M1A2 SEP v3, will be adapted to its use.

Recently, General Dynamics was awarded a contract worth just over $ 44 million to supply modified electronics for Abrams fire control systems integrated with the Trophy (the Department of Defense officially announced it on July 17).

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The system itself is being developed all the time – according to the information provided by Leonardo DRS, it is possible to optionally add systems detecting the firing of enemy anti-tank missiles in infrared (passive), as well as a system that interferes with the guidance of an infrared ATGM (IRCM).

Current trials of these systems in Europe, one of the most likely combat areas in the event of an outbreak of a potential armed conflict, may provide Americans with important information regarding the exploitation or future use of the Trophy. The system was also purchased by Germany for the Leopard 2 tanks assigned to the NATO immediate response force set (VJTF) for 2023.


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