Elbit's Iron Fist wins $250m Israel Defense Ministry deal

Udi Vered

Iron Fist will protect the IDF's new Eitan armored fighting vehicle (AFV) and D-9 bulldozers.

Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) has triumphed over local rival Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. in a tender to supply protective systems for the new Eitan armored fighting vehicle (AFV) and for D-9 IDF bulldozers to the Ministry of Defense. In the recently completed tender, the Ministry of Defense directorate of procurement and production selected the Iron Fist system developed by Elbit Systems Land Systems-IMI. Defense market sources estimated the volume of work to be ordered from Elbit Systems at $250 million over a decade.

Iron Fist was developed by IMI Systems, but the company was privatized 18 months ago and sold to Elbit Systems. Rafael competed in the tender with its own system, based on its Trophy system, which has been in use for several years to protect some of the IDF's armor against anti-tank missiles.

The Ministry of Defense today said that the operational requirements set by the IDF for an active defense system for the Eitan and D-9 bulldozers differed from the requirements it had set for IDF tanks and Namer AFVs, due to the classification of the new Eitan AFV as a light AFV.

The Eitan, which weighs 30 tons, was developed by the Ministry of Defense through the Merkava Tank Administration. It can carry 13 combat soldiers, and is equipped with some of the world's best armor systems. It also has a small unmanned turret with a 30-millimeter cannon and sensory and observation equipment. The Eitan is slated to gradually replace the IDF's outmoded M-113 AFVs used by infantry units.

The IDF was severely criticized in Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 for using outmoded AFV in the combat zones in the Gaza Strip. In one incident, an anti-tank missile fired against one of these AFVs during the fighting in Shejaiya killed the AFV's crew.

The Ministry of Defense's selection of Elbit Systems' product comes shortly after the US army selected Iron Fist for active protection of its Bradley AFVs.

Iron Fist is based on electro-optic sensors, radar, launchers, and special equipment that can neutralize missiles fired against an AFV from long range. The system is capable of providing the vehicle it protects with full perimeter protection, and can operate in both open and urban areas. Iron Fist is small in both size and weight, making it easier to adapt to different types of armored vehicles. "The Ministry of Defense's selection of Iron Fist comes on top of the growing interest in this type of active defense system on the part of many armies in the world, which want to improve the defensive capabilities of their armored vehicles," Elbit Land Systems general manager Udi Vered said.

Several years ago, even before it was acquired by Elbit Systems, IMI tried to sell Iron Fist to the IDF, which was searching for an active defense system for its Merkava tanks. The Ministry of Defense, however, decided to install Rafael's Trophy system on the tanks.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 20, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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