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Some Abrams Tanks Will Have 'Trophy' System By 2020: Army

An M1A1 Abrams fires its main gun. (Photo: U.S. Army)
An M1A1 Abrams fires its main gun. (Photo: U.S. Army)

A brigade of tanks equipped with the "Trophy" Armor Protection System (APS) is expected to be fielded in Europe in 2020, Army officials said Monday.

The Army is also testing similar APS systems for the Stryker combat vehicle, called "Iron Curtain," and for the M2 and M3 Bradley fighting vehicle, known as "Iron Fist."

Those systems are behind Trophy in development, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the Army's program executive officer for ground combat systems, said Monday at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual convention and exhibition.

APS systems rely on sensors and radar, computer processing, fire control technology and interceptors to find, target and knock down enemy fire such as rocket-propelled grenades and Anti Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs).

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Trophy was initially developed for Israel's Merkava tanks by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries' Elta Group. Once a target is detected, the system fires a burst of projectiles similar to buckshot from two rotating launchers on the sides of the vehicle.

With the Trophy system installed, "I tried to kill the Abrams tank 48 times and failed," said Army Col. Glenn Dean, the Project Manager of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Combat Ground Systems, of live-fire testing at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

"Trophy exceeded our expectations," Dean said in a panel discussion on APS.

Officials project that a brigade of more than 80 Abrams tanks equipped with Trophy will be in Europe in 2020 to counter the growing threat from Russia.

In developing Trophy for the Abrams, "we didn't become hostage to the acquisition process that we all know needs reform," said Bassett, echoing what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the convention earlier Monday.

"The intention here is that we move faster in research and engineering" to get new technologies into the field, Mattis said in endorsing the Defense Department's move to split its acquisition, technology and logistics arm into separate functions.

To adapt Trophy to the Abrams, Bassett said the Army scrapped the usual procedure in which a future requirement for the force would be established and studies would be commissioned to sort out how the requirement could be met.

For Trophy, and also for Iron Curtain and Iron Fist, the Army's leadership instead started with a statement of intent to meet a currently defined threat and worked from there, Bassett said.

"It's not what we normally would have done in the past," he said. The main factor in the development was "what can we do quickly," Bassett said

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.