February 2, 2016:
Israel has decided to equip its new Namer IFV (infantry fighting vehicle) with the Trophy APS (Active Protection System) to provide protection from RPGs and ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missile). Trophy weighs about a ton and is one of several APS models on the market but it is also the one with the most impressive combat record. Despite its thick armor Namer was found to be still vulnerable to some of the ATGMs their Arab foes are getting. Trophy is now a proven cure for this problem.
In 2012 Israel equipped all the Merkava tanks in an armor brigade with Trophy. This was a first and came after the first battalion of Merkavas was so equipped in 2010. Then in 2011 Trophy defeated incoming missiles and rockets in combat for the first time. This included ATGMs, apparently a modern Russian system called Kornet E. This is a laser guided missile with a range of 5,000 meters. The launcher has a thermal sight for use at night or in fog. The missile's warhead can penetrate enough modern tank armor to render the side armor of the Israeli Merkava tank vulnerable. A few weeks before the ATGM intercept Trophy defeated an RPG warhead (an unguided rocket propelled grenade fired from a metal tube balanced on the shoulder). All this came a year after first equipping the first few Merkava tanks with APS. As it was designed to do, Trophy operated automatically and the crew didn't realize the incoming RPG warhead or missile had been stopped until after it was over. That is how APS is supposed to work and Trophy has proved to be the most reliable and effective APS out there.
This first combat use is a big deal because APS has been around for nearly three decades but demand and sales have been slow. The main purpose of APS is to stop ATGMs but on less heavily armored vehicles, stopping RPG type warheads is important as well. This is the main reason for developing Trophy LV.
The Israeli Trophy APS uses better, more reliable, and more expensive technology than the original Russian Drozd (or its successors, like Arena) APS. This includes an electronic jammer that will defeat some types of ATGMs. For about $300,000 per system, Trophy will protect a vehicle from ATGMs as well as RPGs (which are much more common in combat zones). Israel is the first Western nation to have a lot of their tanks shot up by modern ATGMs and apparently fears the situation will only get worse. Trophy protected several Israeli tanks from ATGM and RPG attacks during the 50 Day War with Hamas in mid-2014. The Israeli manufacturer of Trophy also partners with American firms to manufacture Trophy and Trophy LV (for lighter vehicles) for the U.S. market.
Israel first encountered ATGMs, on a large scale, in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. But these were the clumsy, first generation missiles that turned out to be more smoke than fire. More recent ATGM designs have proved more reliable and effective but no nation, except Israel, has yet made a major commitment to APS. That may now change, simply because effective APS like Trophy are available and RPG and ATGM losses are growing.
Most APS consist of a radar to detect incoming missiles and small rockets to rush out and disable the incoming threat. A complete system weighs about a ton. There is also a Trophy Light (weighing half a ton) for lighter, often unarmored, vehicles and now the even lighter Trophy LV for vehicles as small as a hummer.
Russia pioneered the development of these anti-missile systems. The first one, the Drozd, entered active service in 1983, mainly for defense against American ATGMs. These the Russians feared a great deal, as American troops had a lot of them, and the Russians knew these missiles (like TOW) worked. Russia went on to improve their anti-missile systems but was never able to export many of them. This was largely because these systems were expensive (over $100,000 per vehicle), no one trusted Russian hi-tech that much and new tanks, like the American M-1, were seen as a bigger threat than ATGMs.
The Namer is based on the chassis of older Merkava I and II series tanks. These vehicles are being retired, so they can either be scrapped, or recycled. Thus Namer has the thick armor of the Merkava. With the turret removed, a remotely controlled (from inside the vehicle) heavy machine-gun has been added on top. The Merkava lends itself to this kind of modification, because the engine is mounted in the front and there is already a door in the back of the vehicle.
While the Israelis liked the speed of the Stryker, which they considered ordering, they felt they will still be fighting in urban areas, against Palestinian terrorists, in the next ten years. There, the Namer has an edge, because of its thicker armor. Out in the open, the Stryker has an advantage. If the Israelis cannot afford to build enough Namers, they will add armor to their existing supply of M-113 APCs. But based on tests, and the first experience in Gaza, troops prefer the Namer.
The Namer carries twelve people (a driver, gunner, vehicle commander and nine infantry). The passenger compartment is also equipped with a stretcher that enables one casualty to be carried along with a full load of passengers and crew. In addition to the remotely controlled 12.7mm machine-gun, there is also a roof hatch on the left forward part of the vehicle, for the commander to use, and also operate a 7.62mm machine-gun. The vehicle also has the Merkava battle management system, as well as four cameras providing 360 degree vision around the vehicle. The remotely controlled machine-gun has a night vision sight. The vehicle also has a toilet, an addition based on troop feedback (and many missions where they had to stay on board for up to 24 hours at a time in combat zones.)
Earlier, Israel had experimented with using T-55 and Centurion tanks as IFVs. This did not work because the engines in these vehicles were in the rear, where the exit doors of AFVs usually are. Thus troops had to enter and exit via top hatches. This was not a good idea in combat. When the older Merkavas became available, IFV conversions were an obvious application. Israeli troops were not happy with their elderly and poorly protected M113 APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers), and were eager to get a safer vehicle.
Note that Namer is sometimes spelled Nemer, in case you want to go searching for more information on the subject.