From the Russian-Ukrainian experience, Israel quickly adapted by equipping the Merkava 4 Tank with an anti-drone cage.

The Trophy Active protection system (APS) was expected to help the Merkava 4 survive against enemy anti-tank weapons. During the attack conducted by the Hamas armed forces, a state-of-the-art Israeli Merkava Mk IV main battle tank (MBT) was destroyed, despite being equipped with a very advanced Trophy system. According to open data sources, the Israeli army’s Merkava IV was destroyed allegedly by drones and anti-tank missiles.

According to Defense-blog, Hamas released a short video of a kamikaze drone, launched in a surprise attack on Saturday morning against Israel. The Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed on Sunday that they launched more than 25 kamikaze drones, including Al-Zawari wing-type, that destroyed Israeli targets, including vehicles and equipment. It is clear that drones are a major threat to Israeli armored units.

From the Russian-Ukrainian experience, Israel quickly adapted by equipping the Merkava 4 Tank with an anti-drone cage. This type of armor is designed to offer protection against aerial attacks, such as drones and loitering munitions.

Military experts, studying videos and photos of the transfer of Israeli tanks, note an innovation: many Merkava tanks are equipped with protective fittings and so-called anti-drone cages. On the first day of the attack by Hamas units, Merkava tanks were knocked out. That shows that there is no truly safe combat vehicle on the battlefield.

In a rapidly evolving battlefield scenario, armies worldwide are keenly observing and learning from recent conflicts to adapt and enhance their military capabilities. One such adaptation comes in the wake of the Russian-Ukrainian war, which showcased the significant role of drones in modern warfare.

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict highlighted the vulnerability of armored vehicles and ground troops to drone strikes. The use of drones, both for reconnaissance and as an offensive tool, has changed the dynamics of ground warfare. Recognizing this, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) seem to be taking proactive measures to safeguard their armored units. These protective structures are believed to be designed to counter the threat posed by low-flying drones, which can be used for surveillance, targeting, or direct attacks.

Modern battle tanks, while formidable in their design and capabilities, have certain vulnerabilities when faced with the evolving threats of the battlefield. One of the most pronounced challenges comes from drones, especially those equipped to launch explosive charges. The top armor of most battle tanks is generally thinner than the frontal or side armor. This design aspect makes them particularly susceptible to attacks from above. Drones, with their ability to hover and attack from an elevated position, can exploit this vulnerability by dropping munitions directly onto the tank’s top surface.

Furthermore, while tanks are designed to withstand threats from ground-based adversaries, they often lack the necessary equipment to counter small, agile drones. Traditional anti-aircraft systems, which are meant to target faster and larger aircraft, may not be as effective against low-flying or hovering drones. This limitation presents a significant challenge, as even unarmed drones can pose a threat by providing real-time surveillance, relaying the tank’s position and movements to enemy forces. Such information can be invaluable for coordinating attacks or planning strategic maneuvers.

Additionally, some drones come equipped with specially designed explosive charges that can adhere to a tank’s surface upon contact. These charges, once attached, can be detonated remotely, inflicting considerable damage. The introduction of anti-drone cages on tanks, such as those observed on Israeli armored units, is a testament to the evolving nature of warfare. These cages act as a physical barrier, preventing drones from getting too close, thereby mitigating the risks of both surveillance and direct attacks.

Kamikaze drones, or suicide drones, are a type of aerial weapon system. They are known as a “loitering munition” because they are capable of waiting in an area identified as a potential target and only strike once an enemy asset is identified. The drone loiters above the operational arena, locates and tracks the enemy, ‘investigates’ possible targets to help to select the high-value ones, chooses the right timing, direction and angle of attack, and then performs a precise strike.

The continuous evolution of technology and tactics in modern warfare necessitates that armed forces remain adaptable and forward-thinking. The adaptation of anti-drone measures on tanks is a clear indication of global militaries learning from recent conflicts and preparing for future challenges on the battlefield.

The Israeli army continues to prepare for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. Merkava and dozens of other combat vehicles were transported to the border with Palestine.


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