Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Army armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) that tore-up the Iraqi Army in Operation Desert Storm (1991) will be the same monsters spearheading battles against the Russian Ground Forces in a future war in Eastern Europe.
There will be one noticeable difference, however. These monsters — the M1 Abrams main battle tank (MBT) and the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) — won’t rely only on their tough armored skins for survival. They’ve got “Trophy.”
Trophy or the Trophy Active Protection System (APS) is a radar-guided defense system that intercepts and destroys incoming anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) using “neutralizing agents,” which are small metal pellets that fan out like buckshot fired from a shotgun.
The pellets are fired from two rotating launchers installed on either side of the Abrams. Incoming rounds are detected by four flat panel antennas mounted on the vehicle. Trophy adds an additional layer of protection to the Abrams’ tough Chobham armor that can withstand most tank killing rounds and missiles.
Trophy was developed after a decade of cooperation between Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Group. The Army recently awarded a $193 million contract to Leonardo DRS, the American partner of Rafael, for the Trophy Active Protection System in support of “immediate operational requirements” to protect M1 tanks from incoming enemy missiles. Leonardo DRS will provide the Trophy systems, countermeasures and maintenance kits.
The Army has been testing the Israeli Trophy system on the M1 as a way of countering the mass of sophisticated armor piercing guided missiles fielded by the Russian Ground Forces and the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force.
“Leonardo DRS is proud to be a part of this important effort to bring life-saving technology to our warfighters, and we are actively investing to ensure Trophy provides a solid, American-made foundation for the Army’s coming Vehicle Protection Suite program,” said Aaron Hankins, vice president and general manager of the Leonardo DRS Land Systems Division.
The Abrams will receive the version of Trophy known as Trophy-HV, for Heavy Version. This model weighs some 1,800 pounds and might reach 5,000 pounds depending on add-ons. On the other hand, the lighter M2 Bradley will receive the lighter brother of Trophy-HV – which is Trophy-VPS (Vehicle Protection System).
Rafael’s official weight figure for Trophy-VPS is about 1,100 pounds. A lighter version now in the works will reduce the weight by 25 to 40 percent.
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