U.S. Army Tanks to Get Active Protection Systems by 2020


A so-called active protection system—defense tech that can shoot down threats to tanks and other armored vehicles—will equip a brigade of U.S. Army tanks, protecting them during a deployment to Europe in 2020. The Israeli-made Trophy system will be retrofitted on up to 80 M1 Abrams tanks, providing added protection against modern tank-killing threats.

The Trophy system is manufactured and marketed by Israeli defense contractor Rafael and international defense contractor Leonardo. It works by ringing a tank with flat panel radar sensors that constantly monitor for incoming threats. Once an incoming tank round, anti-tank missile, or shoulder-fired anti-tank rocket is detected on a collision course with the tank, the Trophy system launches a number of explosively formed projectiles (metal sheets deformed by an explosion into a projectile) in a shotgun-like pattern at the incoming threat weapon. Trophy either detonates the incoming warhead or knocks the object down.

Trophy is called a “hardkill” system (as opposed to “softkill”, a system that accomplishes its mission by jamming or distracting the threat), and Trophy offers 360-degree coverage. That’s especially useful on main battle tanks, which concentrate their thickest armor to the front of the tank, leaving their flanks and rear surfaces vulnerable. Trophy is also effective against high-angle threats, rockets and missiles aimed from aircraft and helicopters. It can even engage multiple incoming threats.

Colonel Glenn Dean, a project manager at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal, told Military.com, “I tried to kill the Abrams tank 48 times and failed.”

Tank rounds, missiles, and rockets all travel much too fast for a human being to react to. As a result, active protection systems like Trophy are fully automated. The system first detects and classifies a threat, determining if the threat is a supersonic tank round or subsonic missile or rocket. Next, it tracks the incoming threat, determines intercept trajectory for the hardkill system, and alerts the crew. Finally, it launches the explosively formed projectiles, blasting the incoming enemy weapon at a safe distance from the tank and any dismounted troops around it.

The entire Trophy system deployed on an Abrams tank weighs about 1,600 pounds. That’s pretty heavy, but adding more real armor, particularly depleted uranium armor, would be much, much heavier. The original Abrams tank weighed approximately 58 tons, while modern versions tip the scales at about 70 tons. Much of the weight difference is due to increased armor. Trophy will help the Army battle tank weight gain while keeping tankers — and those around them — safe from enemy fire. The Army is evaluating similar systems for the M2 and M3 fighting vehicles and the Stryker interim armored vehicle.

According to the blog Below the Turret Ring, Trophy should be installed on all 80 or so tanks covered by the contract by March 2019, with a per unit price of $350,000 each.

Read more at Military.com


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