Trophy RPG-killing Active Protection Systems on US Abrams MBTs

The Army is massively speeding up the installation of RPG-killing Active Protection Systems (APS) weapons on Abrams main battle tanks sent to Europe as part of a major effort to reinforce its Armored Brigade Combat Teams and counter Russian threats in the region.

Trophy RPG killing systems on Europe bound Abrams MBTs
M1A2 SEP V.2 Abrams (Picture source: DVIDS)

The Active Protection Systems (APS) uses sensors and radar, computer processing, fire control technology and interceptors to find, target and destroy or intercept incoming enemy fire such as RPGs and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs).

The APS system currently installed on the Abrams, called "Trophy", has been deployed in combat in Gaza on Israeli Defense Forces' Merkava tanks. While the Trophy system was primarily designed to track and destroy approaching enemy fire, it also provides the additional benefit of locating the position of an enemy shooter. So, the Trophy is engineered to track and destroy approaching enemy fire through 360-degree radar and computer-enabled fire control technology designed to fire out an interceptor projectile to hit and explode attacking RPGs. "Not only will we be fielding one set of Trophy on Abrams tanks to Europe, but also three other brigades," Maj. Gen. John Ferrari, Director, Program Analysis and Evaluation, G-8, told Warrior Maven in an interview. The weapons plus-up for Europe-bound APS is woven into the 2019 budget request, he added.

The Trophy's radar scans the entire perimeter of the platform out to a known range. When a threat penetrates that range, the system then detects and classifies that threat and tells the on-board computer which determines the optical kill point in space, Leonardo DRS officials have told Warrior Maven. The interceptor consists of a series of small, shaped charges attached to a gimbal on top of the vehicle. The small explosives are sent to a precise point in space to intercept and destroy the approaching round. Trophy is the kind of armored vehicle ground-war weapon of particular value in the event of a major land combat engagement against a fortified, well-armed adversary such as Russia.

A challenge consists in developing the proper protocol or tactics, techniques and procedures such that soldiers walking in proximity to a vehicle are not vulnerable to shrapnel, debris or fragments from the explosion between an interceptor and approaching enemy fire.

The Army's expedited APS effort has been managed by a coordinated team of Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center engineers, acquisition professionals, and industry. Trophy involves a collaborative industry team involving General Dynamics, DRS Technologies and Israeli-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

Systems of this kind have been in development for many years, but the rapid technological progress of enemy tank rounds, missiles and RPGs is leading the Army to more rapidly deploy APS for its fleet of Abrams tanks deploying to Europe. The modernization efforts for the Abrams are without question being designed to meet and exceed any dangers posed by rival nation tanks, including the Russian T-14 Armata.


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