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IDF fits armour canopies to tanks

An Israeli Merkava IV tank fitted with a metal cage canopy south of Ashkelon on 15 October. (AFP via Getty Images/Gil Cohen-Magen)

Some of the Merkava IV tanks that have been deployed to the border with the Gaza Strip have had metal cage canopies fitted to their turrets to increase their protection from overhead threats.

Photographs taken of the Israeli buildup in preparation for the operation to destroy the militant group Hamas show that some, but not all, of the Merkava IVs have the previously unseen canopies. One photograph taken north of Gaza on 16 October showed a company of 13 tanks all fitted with the Trophy active protection system and 11 with the new canopy.

However, other armoured units massing on the border do not have this additional protection on any of their tanks.

While the canopies are similar to ones fitted to Russian armoured vehicles in Ukraine, which are colloquially known as ‘cope cages', the Israeli ones look less improvised. They are attached to the front of the Merkava IV's turret using the brackets that hold the sensors for a laser warning system (LWS). These sensors have been seen on some of the Merkava IVs deployed to the border that do not have the Trophy system.

The new canopies have not been seen on any of the Namer infantry fighting vehicles deployed around Gaza, but most are fitted with the Trophy system.

Older Merkava II and III tanks have also been seen deployed to the Gaza border but are unlikely to be used to spearhead the offensive into the north of the Palestinian territory.

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