The US Army Finally Sees a Glimpse into Implementation of Active-Protection Systems

The US Army Finally Sees a Glimpse into Implementation of Active-Protection Systems

The crews of American tank could only be envious of their Russian and Israeli counterparts for years. The tanks of those other countries come with systems of active protection that make them capable of stopping rockets before missiles land and destroy everything. However, envy may be able to be discarded in 2016. The US Army began testing Active-Protection Systems (APS) for all of their armored vehicles. It was recently announced that said APS can be fitted on 261 M-1 Abrams tanks. One question remains, however. Will this defense system actually work? Reports suggested that not even the Army can make such a promise just yet.

There were three candidates to test the Active-Protection Systems on: 1) Army M1A2 and Marine Corps M1A1 for Rafael’s Trophy, 2) M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle for Israel Military Industries’ Iron Fist, and 3) the Stryker armored vehicle for the American firm Artis’ Iron Curtain. The three APIs work using radar to detect incoming antitank rockets. The rockets would be intercepted by shotgun-like projectiles that the vehicles launch. Out of the three, Trophy was the only one that managed to complete its Phase I trials.

The success of Trophy was deemed promising. The future of implementation of Active-Protection Systems on the US military armored vehicles is potential. Again, one question remains: Just how valid was the test result? The condition under which the test was performed is described as being conducted in benign range conditions as well as incorporating threat scenarios that are relatively simple. This may lead to the test results being hard to feel confident about as assessment was inhibited. There are factors that affect the test results, including contractor-imposed limitations, calibrations, and system corrections, all of which were somewhat unexpected. The APS that were tested had some performance limitations that needed modifications.

There were some issues that the Pentagon noticed regarding the test of the chosen Active-Protection Systems. What would be used in the test field was different from the initial test configurations. Trophy weighs 5000 pounds and it messed with the tank’s performance. The maker of the APS strongly influenced the test, tampering with the results in the process. Rafael would be allowed to make some adjustments to the test. There was no realistic armor plate involved in the test so the rate of penetration could not be objectively measured. The test for the 450-pound Iron Fist was delayed due to the Bradley A3 could not generate enough power for the system to work.