US Army Prepares To Upgraed Its Abrams Battle Tanks With Israeli Active Protection Systems

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US Army Prepares To Upgraed Its Abrams Battle Tanks With Israeli Active Protection Systems

Based on BMPD’s article

On September 28, 2017, the US Army Contracting Command issued a contract to General Dynamics for almost $10 million. General Dynamics Land Systems are to outfit a single M1A2 SEPv2 Armor Brigade Combat Team with Israeli-made Trophy active protection systems (APS) by March 29, 2019. General Dynamics Land Systems are contracted only to outfit and sustain Trophy systems, with the APS costs not included in the contract.

Outfitting a single M1A2 SEPv2 Armor Brigade Combat Team with the Trophy APS means full scale Army trials for the efficiency of the APS. Depending on its performance the decision will be made whether to outfit all US Army Abrams battle tanks with Trophy systems. Nevertheless the Trophy APS is considered to be a “temporary solution” until a modular APS is developed.

The Trophy APS also known as Windbreaker is a product of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Group. Since 2010 it is installed on the Israeli Defense Force Merkava battle tanks, and on the Namer APCs since 2014. The Trophy APS currently has a EL/M-2133 four-faced distributed active electronically scanned array Pulse Doppler radar, and it intercepts and destroys incoming missiles and rockets with a shotgun-like blast from two rotating launchers installed on the sides of the vehicle. It can intercept relatively low speed anti-tank rocket propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles, and can not intercept high speed missiles and APDS shots. Like many other contemporary active protection systems, Trophy seriously restricts the infantry near the tank outfitted with the system.

In August 2016 the US Marine Corps also considered testing Trophy APS for outfitting their M1A1 Abrams battle tanks.

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  • Jesus

    Besides being dangerous to accompanying infantry and ineffective against against APDS shots, the number of APS rounds available are limited, the crew has to get out and reload, the launcher manually. This system was designed primarily for the Namer APC, in dealing with Gaza urban difficulties.
    Ideally to defeat the system is to launch a volley of RPGs expanding the APS rounds, followed by a Kornet ATGM that would catch the tank without APS defenses.

    • Graeme Rymill

      “Each autoloader holds only three rounds, so that a maximum of six threats can be engaged in the ideal case”

      https://below-the-turret-ring.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/hardkill-aps-overview.html

    • John Whitehot

      Idk if it’s already happened, but i remember reading that the system would be upgraded from that form to circumvent the tactic you describe in the last lines.

      Also, iirc the problem of danger to nearby infantry was present in the first gen Soviet systems (DROZD), but was solved in both Russian and foreign latter models.

      Of course we are talking systems which inherently still present a danger to the surroundings, like in every setting where high energy objects are deployed. I believe that there is an integrated high volume sound that advises nearby infantry to take cover immediately.

      • Jesus

        I am not sure if Trophy has been upgraded, or will be upgraded, being the first generation of APS for Israelis. I do not think they have the technology to recognize the type of projectiles, therefore it shoots at anything it identifies. For all practical purposes, a Carl Gustaff or any other type of recoiless rifles along with RPGs would engage and deplete the APS capability quickly. They have to increase the number of APS projectiles they can deploy, along with the ability to identify targets and shoot selectively at most dangerous projectiles.

        • VGA

          Trophy can identify which projectiles are dangerous to the vehicle by their trajectory and speed. It doesn’t just fire on anything. And practically if the enemy needs to spam rockets on a tank to expend its APS rounds so that the next hits can actually connect … it has done its job.

          Finally, APDS rounds are the least danger to a tank in modern warfare. You won’t be seeing tank vs tank action any time soon.

          • Jesus

            Quote from an article dated March 2016, American officers “were shocked at how far Russians had come with close-in protection,” said retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, former commandant of the Army War College and one of the intellectual fathers of the Future Combat System. “Ukrainians who were using anti-tank guided missiles — which sadly they did not buy from the United States [because we refuse to provide ‘lethal aid’] — found them virtually unable to penetrate a T-90 without firing multiple shots.

            The quote continues, Not so fast, said Scales. Trophy is “just typical Israeli overhype and ineffectiveness. It was a great killer of accompanying infantry,” he told me. “They have a very simple and unreliable and very expensive radar system that sits on the turret, and when it detects something coming in, these shotgun shells fire out, much like you’d shoot at clay pigeons…..Here’s the problem with that: If you have infantry nearby, then you kill the infantry….end of quote.

            Spamming an APS using inexpensive munitions, later to be followed with with delivery of a more expensive ATGM makes sense in urban areas. Using drones to engage the tank with inexpensive munitions, as well as cluster munitions penetrators are safer alternatives.

            As far as the APDS not being used soon, I do no the know, is that NATO’s wish since their tank forces remained stagnant and unimaginative and they are at a distinct disadvantage?

          • John Whitehot

            “Ukrainians who were using anti-tank guided missiles — which sadly they did not buy from the United States [because we refuse to provide ‘lethal aid’] — found them virtually unable to penetrate a T-90 without firing multiple shots”

            Never saw T-90s in east Ukraine. If you have pics provide them.

          • Jesus

            I do not have any pictures, it is possible the Russians tested T90 tanks under battle conditions without much public fanfare.

          • VGA

            Israeli weapons systems are not “overhyped”, they are used very effectively again and again. The Trophy has been proven to be effective in combat conditions on Merkava tanks against RPG attacks. Russia’s equivalent system is nowhere to be seen, I don’t see it active on T-90 tanks in Syria.

            So you can believe what you want based on people who push their own agenda and discount israeli technology and ability … or you can see the actual systems IN USE. In actual combat.

            And your impractical ideas about firing salvos of RPGs and then ATGMs are laughable, I am sorry. Life isn’t a video game, if something isn’t practical, then it doesn’t work in actual combat.

          • John Whitehot

            There are no Russian tanks in Syria besides base security in Tartus / Hmeynym. There are Russian built T-90s with Syrian crews encadred in SAA formations.

            An uncertain number of Syrian tanks has also been equipped with a home-developed passive protection system, probably designed with Russian help, but that has been described as an efficient and cheap device.

            I’d say that such devices can be quickly dismounted and remounted on different vehicles at low level echelons workshops, so that SAA tanks receiving a combat mission could be mounted them at short notice.

          • Jesus

            The Trophy was developed to contend with threats prevalent in Gaza Strip, where urban warfare is the norm. The Trophy was not specifically designed for armored warefare as Russian counterparts were, subsequently their use are more limited since it does not use UV technology in clearly identifying the oncoming rounds.

            In Syria, Russia does not have to show its hand, the Shtora and the reactive armor are sufficient in dealing with the threat.
            As far as RPG shots, Hamas does not have access to sophisticated weapons, spraying RPG shots on the side of a Merkava can cause damage and immobilize the tanks, expanding the APS defensive capacity.

        • John Whitehot

          you don’t need to recognize and identify the type of projectile incoming (like discriminating a TOW from a Konkurs), that would be far beyond current capabilities and probably cost too much to be doable.

          Incoming projectiles are prioritized based on :

          – trajectory. will the shell hit the tank? and if yes, where will it hit?
          – Speed. From speed some information can be gathered on the incoming weapon. Subsonic ATGM vs Supersonic ATGM vs tank HEAT shell vs Air launched etc etc.

          I would also say that with modern networked battle displays, the system could take input from them. For example if a threat has been identified by own or friendly units, the APS would already precisely know how to treat the incoming weapon.

          I doubt that this last point is implemented in reality, but it’s nonetheless something that does not cost much (you can do it by software) and that will anyway improve the overall capability.

          Rest assured though, that APS systems all have their flaws and weaknesses – a clever enemy will make every effort to uncover them and quickly develop tactics to exploit them.

          In regards to generations, I ‘d no doubt prefer my tank to be protected by Afganit rather than Trophy, yet keep in mind that Trophy is on the general level of Arena; Russian 2nd gen. Soviet 1st gen had no match in Israel or West.

    • Vitex

      The houthis tend to blow up the entire road with the tank and all. Or they wait until the tank runs out of gas and then burn it with a cigarette lighter.

  • cynic

    I wonder how much of the bloated American defence budget is spent in Israel? Aren’t the Americans lucky to have such technically adept people able to supply their weapons, as well as running their airports etc as well as being so knowledgeable about terrorism, just in case Arab terrorists feel like repeating 9/11!