US Army Active Protection Systems
The US Army PEO Ground Combat Systems in a briefing at AUSA added details on its latest Expedited, Non-Developmental Item (NDI) Active Protection Systems (APS) efforts. The panel included TARDEC’s head Dr. Paul Rogers, PEO Maj.Gen. David Basset, and the PM Col. Glenn Dean. It covered the accelerated fielding of three selected APS candidates. The Rafael TROPHY, the Artis IRON CURTAIN and IMI-Systems/General Dynamics (GD) Ordnance and Tactical System (OTS) IRON FIST-Light were selected as having the highest maturity. Col. Dean stated, “the focus now is on “characterising” these systems to its designated platform.” This considers the specific adaptations necessary for the APS to be installed and to operate effectively. He explained that the operation of current APS available and the platform mission and configuration directly influenced which APS was preferable for each vehicle.
The TROPHY will be placed on the M1A2 ABRAMS tank. This effort is further along due to previous work accomplished and the funding in hand for the project. TROPHY is a shoot-down-hard kill system that was specifically developed for the MBT and other heavy vehicles; therefore, its compatibility with the M1 is straight forward. Col. Dean suggested as well that the typically forward position of the MBT would mitigate some of the concerns expressed over potential causalities to dismounted friendly infantry. The system is to be a “stand-alone” on the M1A2 and not fully integrated with the goal of having it on a brigade by 2020.
IMI and GD OTS’ IRON FIST is selected for the M2 BRADLEY Infantry Fighting Vehicle. The system utilises launched “small blast interceptors” that engage beyond the vehicle. This system’s 250kg (550lbs) weight is a benefit for the M2 is already weight and electrical power challenged. IRON FIST use of a 360 degree trainable launcher also simplifies fitting on what is a crowded vehicle exterior. The system is also optimised for the M2’s key threats hand held anti-armour projectiles and guided missiles. Although “hard kill” it does not detonate the incoming warhead, rather using a shockwave to break it apart.
STRYKER will get the US developed IRON CURTAIN from Artis. This system is a very close in perimeter defeat system that can be used even on lightly armoured vehicles as it acts before the RPG warhead “jet” is formed. Its “look down – shoot down” or “look up – shoot up” design negates collateral casualties, a major consideration for infantry carriers. It has proven highly effective in countering handheld weapons with 100% success in 2013 tests. A company spokesperson indicted that it also has the potential to defeat guided missiles. As a perimeter system with a continuous line of defeat it offers instant multi-shot defeat and the flexibility to be installed on a wide range of vehicle configurations. The Army is open to looking at other NDI APS if funded and continues its Modular APS (MAPS), an open architecture system with a common controller, development which could be used with the interim APS.
Stephen W. Miller