UPDATED: DOTE Live Fire Supervising Tests
Next month a Stryker combat vehicle will arrive in the US equipped for testing the Israeli’s Trophy active protection system. The Army has pursued active protection for years, most recently abandoning the Future Combat System’s active protection system developed by Raytheon. We understand at least one M-ATV will also get the radar- directed system. The M-ATV integration is more challenging, given the vehicle’s design.
The Israelis have already created a Merkava tank brigade with the Trophy system and plan to install it on all of those tanks. The Israeli system was designed and built by Rafael and is being displayed at the Association of the US Army conference here. The Trophy system basically tracks incoming RPGs and missiles with radar antenna mounted flush on the vehicle. Once the system identifies an imminent threat it deploys tiny explosively formed penetrators to destroy it, striking the target in the warhead.
Among the problems with active protection systems generally is fratricide. Because the systems use explosives to destroy incoming RPGs or missiles they can kill dismounted infantry patrolling with the tanks or other armored vehicles. The Rafael business development manager for Trophy, Col. Didi Benyoash, said the Israelis have “done whatever we can to eliminate the problem of fratricide.” Company literature claims that the “average probability of injury to neighboring infantry or neighboring platform crew due to collateral damage caused by Trophy operation is less than 1 percent.”
A promotional video done by the company shows dismounted troops walking a narrow street with armored vehicles. One RPG fired misses a vehicle by a few feet and does not trigger the active protection system. Two more are on target and the system fires. Several soldiers near the armored vehicle fall to the ground, apparently unhurt. But Benyoash also noted that deaths by fratricide from the APS would almost certainly be much lower than the casualties resulting from a successful strike on a vehicle, which would probably kill everyone in the vehicle as well as kill or injure soldiers within 20 or 30 meters of the blast.
We put in a call to the folks at the Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, who we hear will do the tests. UPDATE: It looks as if the live fire folks at OSD’s director of Operational Test and Evaluation are supervising this because of the international nature of the tests.