The Army launched an accelerated effort in early 2017 to equip its M1 Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Strykers with commercially available active protection systems (APS) designed to defeat enemy anti-tank guided missiles.
Since then, the Army has had success with the Trophy system, designed by the Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, for the Abrams. But it is moving slowly to equip the Bradley and has failed to find a system that is compatible with the lightly armored, all-wheeled Stryker.
Army officials testified on the issue March 5 before the House Armed Services Committee's Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee when Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, asked for an update on the effort.
"What is the Army doing to maintain momentum in fielding non-developmental active protection systems for the Abrams, Bradley and Stryker as we believe soldier protection is our number one priority?" Hartzler asked.
The Army has agreed to equip four brigade combat teams' worth of M1 tanks with the Trophy system and is still testing another Israeli APS system, known as Iron Fist, to see whether it "is something that will work with the Bradley," Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette, deputy chief of staff for Army G-8, said.
"Stryker, on the other end of the spectrum, it is a tough science project -- the ability to defeat a round with an active protective system to the degree that doesn't allow penetration from the secondary effects," he said.
The Army has wanted armored vehicles equipped with APS for more than a decade. The service selected the Quick Kill APS, made by Raytheon Co., to equip its manned ground vehicles under the Future Combat Systems program. The effort died, however, when then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled the FCS program in 2009 -- the same year the Israel Defense Forces fielded the first Trophy APS systems.
APS is a "unique category in the world of non-developmental items," said Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology.
"I believe that one of the things we need to do is start opening the aperture and look for those things that we can invest in the nascent stages of APS systems or all we are ever going to get are the ones that are already developed by foreign governments or already exist in place," Jette said. "There is not really a lot of [non-developmental item] options laying on the table, and we just need to test them. We are going to have to do some work in development to get where we need to go."
The Army has seen some promising technologies, but Jette said he would not talk about the details in an unclassified hearing.
"They are significant; they I think will lead us to some different views of how we execute APS," he said.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.