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HAIFA, Israel — On a dusty, wind-swept field overlooking the Mediterranean, a small team of researchers is putting the final touches on what Israel says is a major game changer in tank defense: a miniature anti-missile system that detects incoming projectiles and shoots them down before they reach the armored vehicles.
If successful, the "Trophy" system could radically alter the balance of power if the country goes to war again against Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon or Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. Its performance could also have much wider implications as American troops and their Western allies battle insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Developers say the Trophy can stop any anti-tank rocket in the formidable Hezbollah arsenal, which struck dozens of Israeli tanks and killed at least 19 Israeli tank crewmen during their monthlong war.
Israeli media have said the cost is about $200,000 per tank.