The US has moved forward with two active protection systems currently under consideration for Land 400 and Abrams tank upgrade programs.
General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, in cooperation with Elbit Systems and IMI’s team, is moving forward with Phase II of their Iron Fist Light Active Protection System (APS) following the announcement of a positive Army Requirements Oversight Council decision in the US.
Iron Fist Light uses independent optical sensors, tracking radar, launchers and countermeasure munitions to defeat threats at a safe distance from the defended combat vehicles. The system provides 360-degree protection coverage for close-range scenarios.
With Russian and Chinese-made anti-tank missiles proliferating in Syria and other war zones, the US Army — and now the Marines — are rushing to field Active Protection Systems on all their armoured fighting vehicles.
“We are excited to move into Phase II and bring the vast capabilities of our Active Protection System to the Bradley Fighting Vehicle,” Steve Elgin, vice president and general manager of armament and platform systems for General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, said.
“We are proud to support the US Army and cooperate with General Dynamics in delivering the Iron Fist Light - a sophisticated protection system that will enhance the capabilities of a variety of Army platforms while defeating a wide range of threats,” Yehuda Vered, executive vice president and general manager of Elbit Systems Land Division, said.
Meanwhile, Leonardo has announced that it has been awarded a contract action initially worth $US79.6 million to provide the US Army and Marine Corps with additional Trophy systems, bringing the total funded value of the program to over $US200 million. Four brigades of M1 Abrams heavy tanks are already funded for Trophy.
Developed by long-time partner Rafael, Trophy has a launcher based hard kill system that provides protection against anti-armour rocket and missile threats, whilst locating and reporting the origin of the hostile fire. The system is fitted on Israeli Merkava IV tanks and Namer IFVs and is currently being fitted to American Abrams tanks.
“Leonardo DRS is proud of the confidence shown by the US Army in deciding to field Trophy to even more US combat brigades,” Aaron Hankins, Vice President and General Manager of the Leonardo DRS Land Systems division, said.
“Together with our Rafael partners, we are fully committed to meeting our customers’ demands and are working in parallel to further address the urgent protection needs of other US platforms.”
The DRS and Rafael team led a successful demonstration featuring a new, lighter Trophy vehicle protection system (VPS) variant on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Israel during August 2018.
“Rafael does not stand still. Trophy VPS provides the same capabilities and performance as Trophy in a significantly smaller package,” Moshe Elazar, Executive Vice President and Head of Rafael’s Land and Naval Division, said.
Fielding active protection capabilities has been identified as an urgent need by the US Army. Australia has long shown interest in the system for both the Land 400 and Abrams tank upgrade programs but there are also concerns about cluttering the turrets on the respective vehicles along with the power demands of active protection systems.
ADM also understands that any addition of an APS to the ADF’s order of battle would require a significant change in tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) to accommodate the technology safely.