Israeli Merkava tanks have been seen with metal roofs over their turret hatches at various deployment points around Gaza, as have Russian tanks during their “Special Military Operations” (SMO) in Ukraine.
The roofs are expected to protect the tanks from explosives and grenades launched by drones, which are usually intended to fall inside hatches or near the origin of the main gun.
A Merkava-4 was destroyed in this manner by Hamas on October 7 during the group’s multi-front surprise attack. Footage from a UAV showed the tank exploding and being destroyed by secondary explosions.
Al Qassam Brigades (Hamas) destroyed a Merkava Mk4, perhaps the same one we have seen from the ground, with a drone-dropped PG-7VR tandem HEAT RPG projectile, easily piercing the armour from above. pic.twitter.com/6R3nq4h62c
— Cᴀʟɪʙʀᴇ Oʙsᴄᴜʀᴀ (@CalibreObscura) October 7, 2023
The tank deployments suggest that an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza is taking shape after much speculation. A ground invasion had been assessed to be politically and militarily costly for Tel Aviv, as Hamas anticipated the action as part of the Netanyahu government’s severe reaction and prepared for extremely harsh and punitive airstrikes.
Not only is the IDF likely to suffer losses, but it also invites direct Arab diplomatic intervention, Iranian military support, and determined Hezbollah action from the north, expanding the war into a full-fledged regional conflict. But it is Israel’s only option if it wants to achieve its goal of completely “destroying” Hamas.
Israeli tanks adopt Cope cages.
Images released by Getty Images showed a large armored group with Merkava-4 tanks, “Namer” tracked infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and tank recovery vehicles in a staging area. Six Merkava-4s can be seen with the metal cages above the turret hatch, with the cages themselves supported by thin metal rods from the turret.
Several other images on social media, from both pro-Israel and critical accounts, showed individual Merkava tanks and sections of tanks with “cope cages” or “emotional support” cages, a pejorative term used for similar ad hoc upgrades, on Russian tanks early in the war.
Rockets launched by drones cannot be stopped.
Online commentators have noted that Hamas employs PG-7VR rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) launched from unmanned aerial vehicles. These projectiles of Russian origin are highly explosive anti-tank rockets (HEAT) to counter explosive reactive armor (ERA).
SCBA consists of square or rectangular panels filled with explosives that cover the tank’s turret and weak parts of the chassis. This causes the warhead of a rocket or cannonball to explode prematurely before impacting the main steel body of the tank.
But the PG-7VR uses a “tandem warhead” design, in which the rocket is longer, with a smaller primary charge, with a larger explosive charge behind it. The small warhead hits the ERA panel, disabling it and clearing the way for the main anti-tank warhead to hit the armor.
Thus, X (formerly Twitter) handle’s post, Iran Defense, suggests that the PG-7VR should function in exactly the same way even when launched vertically from Hamas drones. Hamas also has a large inventory of regular ATGMs, but Merkava’s Trophy active protection system (APS) can be expected to cope with them.
Hamas also has other ATGM missiles, such as the Russian-made Konkurs, the Korner and the North Korean Bulsae-2. But none of them have the “top attack” mode, in which the missile rises after leaving the launcher and plummets onto the tank, impacting the upper part of the turret, the weakest.
Hamas prepares for an Israeli ground invasion.
Hamas has issued a pamphlet guide for its fighters that recommends countering the Alox and APS Trophy by firing multiple RPG projectiles from 45 meters to overwhelm them. It remains to be seen whether this will be successful when the IDF begins its ground operation.
It can be said that both sides have been preparing for this type of war, with Hamas developing its dense network of underground tunnels, assuming operating hostile skies indiscriminately in an urban environment. Also, the Israel Defense Forces are designed to fight a non-state resistance actor on the latter’s internal front.
However, the defending Hamas essentially has the advantage, as it enjoys the privilege of exploiting the tunnels of the destroyed city and remaining hidden in an underground network that only it knows about.
The IDF’s advanced technology will not be a game-changer either. This is demonstrated by the destruction of the Merkava-4 by the bomb dropped by a drone, the overwhelming Iron Dome anti-aircraft defense system and the general shock and surprise that it caused on the morning of October 7 and that left the security services completely stupefied. Israeli intelligence and security.
Russia’s ridiculous Cope cages
Supposedly installed in the hope of preventing the American-made Javelin anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) from hitting the upper section of the tank so that it would explode upon contact with the cage itself, the hack did not always work and ended up destroying several dozen of Russian tanks in the first two months of the war.
The cages, therefore, represented a useless attempt in the face of the guaranteed devastation of the Javelin, serving at most to psychologically calm the Russian tank crews.
But surprisingly, as EurAsian Times reported in subsequent articles, the practice became widespread and was even adopted by Ukrainian tanks and self-propelled guns (SPG), suggesting a certain degree of success. This was against Russian loitering munitions such as the Lancet-3, which caused extensive damage to artillery and tanks of American and NATO origin.