Could Israel’s ‘Tank Shield’ Make the U.S. Army’s M1 Abrams Even More Deadly?

    Michael Peck

    Security, Middle East

    Or is it a paper tiger? 

    For years, American tank crews could only gnash their teeth while their Israeli and Russian counterparts enjoyed active-protection systems to stop rockets from destroying their vehicles.

    Envy turned to hope in 2016, when the U.S. Army finally decided to begin testing APS defenses for its armored vehicles. Then earlier this month, the Army announced that it would fit 261 M-1 Abrams tanks—enough for three brigade combat teams—with Israel’s Trophy APS system.

    But will these antirocket defenses really work? A Pentagon inspector’s report last month suggests that, because of problems with testing, the Army can’t even be sure of APS’s effectiveness.

    The Army chose three APS candidates: Rafael’s Trophy for Army M1A2 and Marine Corps M1A1 tanks, Israel Military Industries’ Iron Fist for the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, and the Iron Curtain from American firm Artis for the Stryker armored vehicle. All three systems use radar to detect incoming antitank rockets, which are then intercepted by shotgun-like projectiles fired from the vehicle. Only Trophy has completed Phase I initial trials, which included assessing whether dismounted personnel are endangered by fragments, engaging two incoming threats simultaneously, and determining whether metallic clutter on the ground would interfere with Trophy’s radar.

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