The Israeli Army will begin equipping its Merkava IV main battle tanks with the Trophy anti-missile system, which was successfully tested last week.

The new missile system uses 360° radar to track incoming missiles and rocket propelled grenades by creating a hemispherical protected zone around the tank and firing a projectile to explode the missiles before they reach their target.

The new system will add about a ton to the tank’s weight and cost around $350,000 a vehicle. The anti-missile system can operate from a stationary as well as in a moving tank, engaging several threats simultaneously.

The new system is currently installed in the 401st Armored Brigade’s tanks and will equip a full armoured battalion by 2010.

The system was developed over ten years by the Defence Ministry and the Rafael Armaments Development Authority in collaboration with the Israel Aircraft Industries Elta Group.