Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is developing an active protection system (APS) designed to protect the Israeli air force’s helicopters from rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) threats.

The company has successfully conducted ground tests on its new defence system, which is known as Flicker, during which the system detected the target using aircraft sensors and launched an interceptor to hit the warhead of an RPG, consequently destroying it.

The new system operates similarly to the Rafael-built Trophy equipment, which has been designed to defend tanks and armoured personnel carriers from rockets and shells, with the equipment currently operational on Israel’s Merkava 4 battle tanks.

Incoming threats are intercepted by the hemispheric protected zone around the vehicle, created by the Trophy system, using a classified interceptor that deflects the incoming target.

Flicker, unlike the Trophy system, uses aircraft sensors to detect the target and launch an interceptor rocket to neutralise the incoming threat.

The Israeli air force currently utilises electronic warfare systems for its helicopters to protect against missile attacks, but these are not capable of protecting the aircraft against RPG rockets such as the ex-Soviet-7.

Lack of such a capability has led to the destruction of many helicopters in conflicts in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

Around 200 transport helicopters, including 73 twin-engine Sikorsky Black Hawk aircraft of various designations are in service with Israel.