Soviet PG-7VR rocket piercing the top armor of a Merkava Mk4 tank

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On the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War [October 6 to 25, 1973], Hamas launched attacks against Israel. Israel has already undertaken mass mobilization and is responding reciprocally to attacks by Hamas.

A video is attracting increasing attention from experts in the military industry. An Israeli Merkava Mk4 tank was destroyed by an overhead strike and fire. The author of the video claims that the drone-dropped projectile, a tactic we first saw used by the Ukrainian armed forces against Russian armored vehicles, is from the Soviet-era PG-7VR, which actually continues to be produced in modern-day Russia.

At least until that moment, just like the British Challenger tanks, the Israeli Merkava, which is famous for its very good performance, had the image of being difficult to destroy.

Photo credit: IDF

Trophy APS

Such an opinion is not accidental, because Merkava is equipped with one of the best protection – Trophy active protection system [APS]. It is such a video as the one shared that could be the reason for the Trophy APS to be updated in the future by the Israeli designers to include an RPG missile attack from above, which in principle is not intended for such an attack direction.

The Trophy is a sophisticated active protection system [APS] developed exclusively for the military. Its key function is safeguarding vehicles against a wide array of threats such as anti-tank guided missiles [ATGMs], rocket-propelled grenades [RPGs], anti-tank rockets, and high-explosive anti-tank [HEAT] rounds. 

Photo credit: Pan.bg

The mechanics of the Trophy system involve the launching of a minimal number of explosively formed projectiles. These projectiles neutralize incoming threats before they strike the vehicle. By offering additional protection to the existing armor of both light and heavily armored combat vehicles, it enhances their defensive capabilities.

Over 1,000 systems use Trophy

The system is a product of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. in Israel and is equipped on over 1,000 systems, including all leading Israeli ground combat platforms [Merkava Mark 3 & 4 and Namer APCs], U.S. Abrams M1A1/2, and has been tested on Stryker APCs and Bradley Fighting Vehicles [BFVs]. 

Pivotal to the Trophy’s success is its proficiency in counteracting a multitude of anti-tank threats, coupled with its potential to promptly trace enemy locations. This dual functionality equips crew members and combat formations with critical situational awareness, which consequently aids in maintaining survivability and maneuverability across all types of combat scenarios. 

Photo credit: Flicr

PG-7VR rocket

Equally compelling is the PG-7VR, an Anti-tank Rocket donned with Tandem HEAT [High Explosive Antitank] shaped charge. It arms the RPG operator with the capacity to strategically engage numerous targets, ranging from tanks and light armored vehicles to reinforced concrete and brick constructions, aiding in the neutralization of enemy forces even when holed up within buildings or fortresses. What makes this rocket a wise choice is its cost-effectiveness and impressive penetration and destructive capacity. 

Photo credit: Rosoboronexport

Featuring a caliber of 105mm, when launched from an anti-tank system, the PG-7VR is most effective at a distance of 200 meters. The missile showcases varying penetration capabilities, including homogeneous armor [under ERA] at 0.6m, brick at 2m, reinforced concrete at 1.5m, and log and soil at a substantial 3.7m.

‘Ukrainian tactic’

Middle East sources say it is the second Merkava tank destroyed since the start of the Hamas attack. Many comments in the social media draw attention precisely to the “budgetary Ukrainian tactics” used against Israeli ground combat vehicles.

“That’s why modern armies of the West must BEG for consultations with the Ukrainian military because they know what the real war is and how it’s done with a $15 drone and a hand grenade attached to it,” reads one of the comments.

Video screenshot

However, perhaps one of the most effective comments on a Twitter account is this: “That was inevitable. Ukrainian tactics have shown their efficiency and will inspire a generation of techno-guerillas. Any new MBT project that doesn’t feature a built-in jammer or active interception system can go straight to the garbage bin.”

The ‘Rocket War’ in 2021

In May 2021, tensions rose as Israel prepared to send ground troops and armored vehicles into Gaza, prompting international calls for peace.

Gaza tested Israel’s air defense system, Iron Dome, with a barrage of missiles. Rocket strikes also came from Syria and Lebanon. Hamas relied on its Qassam rockets. 

Photo credit: AFP, Mahmud Hams

Israel’s Iron Dome  defense system intercepted 90% of the missiles. They countered with extensive air raids, damaging Hamas’ underground network in Gaza. 

By the end of the conflict, Israel reported it had killed 120 Hamas and over 20 Islamic Jihad members. The total number of Palestinian casualties was 232, including 65 minors. It’s uncertain if this tally includes the alleged Hamas fatalities.

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