The Israel Air Force was closely following reports regarding the apparent downing of a United States Army helicopter over the weekend that killed 38 people, including 30 elite American troops.
The Chinook helicopter appears to have been shot down by a shoulder-launched missile, possibly a rocket propelled grenade. NATO has launched an investigation to try to determine the cause of the disaster, which constituted the largest loss of life suffered by foreign forces in a single incident in 10 years of war.
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In recent years and in the face of a similar threats, the IAF has changed the way it flies over the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon due to intelligence reports that both Hamas and Hezbollah have obtained a significant number of shoulder- to-air missiles.
Hamas, for example, is believed to have Russian SA-7 shoulder-fired missiles from Iran. The IAF believes that Hezbollah has also obtained a large quantity of shoulder-toair missiles and is concerned by reports that it might also have received the SA-8, a Russian tactical mobile truckmounted surface-to-air missile system reported to have a range of 30 km.
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, a Yasour helicopter was shot down in Lebanon by Hezbollah, killing all of its crew.
Last month, The Jerusalem Post revealed that the IAF is looking into the possibility of installing an active protection system aboard its helicopters that would intercept enemy missiles like a similar system recently proven in combat on IDF tanks.
The requirement for such a system was recently issued by the IAF’s Helicopter Air Directorate in light of the success of the Trophy active protection system developed by Rafael which intercepted a rocket propelled grenade fired at a Merkava Mk 4 tank deployed along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip in March.
The Trophy system, which weighs 800 kg., would not be applicable for helicopters since it fires off a cloud of countermeasures that could potentially damage the helicopter’s rotor. The Trophy consists of a radar which detects threats and activates one of two launchers, which discharges a cloud of hard-kill countermeasures to intercept the incoming threat.
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