by Russ Vaughn
The US military will be installing the Israeli-built Trophy Active Protection System (APS) meant to intercept and destroy incoming missiles or rockets on their M1A2 Abrams tanks.
One of the huge problems in fighting asymmetric wars such as America has been doing now for decades is that the advantage a major power has in expensive, sophisticated weaponry can be negated in seconds with an inexpensive, primitive weapon, with the rocket-propelled grenade being the classic example. RPGs have taken out everything from helicopters to heavy tanks. Now, according to Global Security.org, the Army is doing something about it by doing a test refitting its main battle tank, the M1A2 Abrams, with a new advanced Israeli defensive system.
The US military will be installing the Israeli-built Trophy Active Protection System (APS) meant to intercept and destroy incoming missiles or rockets on their M1A2 Abrams tanks. This will make the US military the only other besides the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to use the defensive system.That last paragraph explains exactly why this is a good economical move by the Army. Even a disabled tank can cost millions to retrieve from the battle area and return to a maintenance depot capable of making the necessary repairs, so just a few such "saves" can more than justify the cost of this program. Other active protection systems, like the Iron Curtain, are being used to protect other military vehicles. Let us hope more and better protection systems are in the works to protect these vehicles and their crews.
The Trophy system consists of a quartet of radar antennae and fire-control radars that detects incoming projectiles, such as anti-tank guided missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and then destroys them with a blast like that from a shotgun.
It is a "hard kill" system, meaning it protects the vehicle by destroying the projectile; this is opposed to a "soft kill" system that interferes with the missile's guidance and redirects it. Soft kill devices are useless against the simple RPGs popular with militant groups such as Daesh.
Jointly developed by two Israeli-owned state corporations, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Trophy is the only combat-proven APS in the world.
The Pentagon made this decision after an "urgent material" request, they said in a press release on Thursday. Each system costs an estimated $350,000, and it will be first deployed to one of the US Army's 14 Armor Brigade Combat Team's squadron of 28 M1A2 SEPv2 variants, a nearly $10 million contract. It may then be added to other squadrons later on if it impresses, the Pentagon said.
Anti-materiel weapons such as RPGs have been a perennial thorn in the side of the US military and its allies. A $2,000 RPG launcher firing a $500 grenade can destroy or disable a $9 million Abrams tank. Over the course of 2014, the Iraqi Army lost 100 of the 140 Abrams the Americans had sold them in the fight against Daesh.
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