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Almost a decade passed since Israeli defence manufacturer Rafael premiered an innovative anti-missile defence system for armoured vehicles and tanks – the Trophy Active Protection System. Following years of research, development, and testing, the US Army and Marine Corps are now eyeing the Trophy up and preparing to pilot it on its tanks.
Trophy protect the vehicle it’s attached to by shooting down an incoming missile with what is essentially a turret-mounted shotgun. It’s incredibly effective. The system operates in two modes: active and soft. In the former, active onboard sensors detect incoming threats and fire rounds to deflect them. The soft mode uses jammers in a similar manner to how most aircraft protection systems work.
The US Army plans to lease four of Rafael’s Trophy systems to test them on its Stryker combat vehicle and M1A2 tank, the US Naval Institute said. The Marine Corps is also planning on some rigorous testing for the system and is modifying a few M1A2 tanks to accommodate it.
Lieutenant General Robert S Walsh, Commanding General of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, recently told the Senate that tech like the Trophy is absolutely essential to keep up with advancing threats.
“When we start getting threats on our aircraft, our helicopters, our fixed wing aircraft, [from] infrared missiles, we quickly put out a capability to defeat those types of missiles,” Walsh said. “Now we’re seeing the threat on the ground changing, becoming a much more sophisticated threat on the ground. What we’ve continued to do is up-armor our capabilities on the ground, put armor on them.”
Adding more and more armour increases the ability to protect vehicles, but hinders their ability to function. Now, Walsh said, the time has come to work “more with a higher technology capability” to protect the Army’s assets.
Testing is slated to begin soon, but at this stage it’s unknown when the Army or Marine Corps will implement Trophy on a large scale.