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A team of weapons developers, led by Italian company Leonardo but based in the UK, have successfully demonstrated a new system aimed to protect tanks and armored vehicles from missile attacks.
This is an impressive feat and the system was advertised during the DSEI 2021 defense exhibition in London.
The Leonardo-led team includes Abstract Solutions, CGI, Frazer-Nash, Lockheed Martin UK, Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land, Roke and Ultra Electronics.
They demonstrated the new Modular Integrated Protection System, or MIPS, at the Ministry of Defense Shoeburyness range in Essex back in July 2021.
The project was launched in response to the rise and “rapidly evolving threat” of modern rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and anti-tank guided weapons.
The demonstration included weapons that pose threat being shot at close range at the MIPS, which consists of a combination of commercial off-the-shelf and surrogate sensors and countermeasures.
Similar to many of the newer technologies, MIPS is of a modular nature and can be used with the most affordable and best sensors and countermeasures.
Some of these sensors offer “soft” protection that can detect the threat early and attempt to disrupt, decoy or spoof the threat. Other sensors are designed to physically intercept and defeat the incoming missile.
It is a challenge to integrate an active protection system on a vehicle fleet. The US also makes its own efforts to develop a modular system capable of protecting combat vehicles from RPGs and anti-tank guided weapons.
The U.S. Army is working on its Modular Active Protection System, or MAPS. Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract to integrate and formally test an open-architecture processor designed to control the system.
Lockheed Martin will develop the MAPS base kit hardware and software, perform platform integration and run on-vehicle, live-fire demonstrations over a 36-month period.
The Army, Lockheed Martin and other industry partners have been working to prepare sensors and countermeasures controlled by the MAPS base kit for laboratory-based and live-fire demonstrations.
Evidently, the UK is further ahead than the US in this technology. The places have been reversed and it appears that United States is not only falling behind in terms of hypersonic technologies compared to its adversaries. It is also falling behind in more “basic” technologies and its allies are pulling ahead.
So far, the US Army has spent years developing a vehicle protection system, and has had several attempts to field interim active protection systems onto current combat vehicles.
Only one has ever been successful – Rafael’s Trophy installed on the M1 Abrams battle tank, and it is currently under evaluation with a unit in Europe. Whether it is actually adequate and effective remains unknown.