WASHINGTON — Based on what was observed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. military in Europe has renewed interest in pursuing active mass destruction protection systems for its Stryker fight, which the service put on the back burner years ago.
Beginning in 2016, the Army evaluated active protection systems that could provide increased protection for Stryker. He decided in 2019 to put the effort on hold after evaluating several possible solutions.
“There is renewed interest in hard-kill APS for Stryker forces in Europe,” said Colonel William Venable, project manager for the Stryker Brigade Combat Team in the program executive office. army ground combat systems. He spoke at a conference in Arlington, Va., focused on future active protection for armored vehicles on June 2.
European theater interest returned to his office, Venable said. The Army asked for comments on requirements for a system that can be fielded quickly, much like the service did to arm the Stryker with a 30mm cannon, known as the Dragoon. and also with a common ranged weapon system using Javelin anti-tank missiles.
The Army moved quickly on both programs amid the urgent operational needs of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Anticipating Russian capability, the Army called for the implementation quick service of greater firepower capacity for its maneuver forces.
While the Army planned to deploy APS on the M1 Abrams tanks, Bradley and Stryker infantry fighting vehicles, it only managed to deploy the Rafael-made Trophy APS system on the Abrams.
The Army still has a small congressional supplement of $16 million in fiscal year 2022 to continue evaluations and work on the Iron Fist system manufactured by IMI for Bradley. The service provided no subsequent funding for the program in FY23 and beyond, according to budget documents.
For Stryker, the Army evaluated the Iron Curtain from Artis Corporation, based in Herndon, Va., before determining it was not the right system for the vehicle.
The service then evaluated Rheinmetall’s Active Defense System and Rafael’s VPS Trophy for Stryker, but did not move forward with either due to limitations and challenges. One of the biggest issues is that several solutions neutralize threats very close to the vehicle, leaving dismounted soldiers wandering outside vulnerable.
Venable said there was a gap in the service’s understanding of the performance requirements for hard-kill APS systems on Stryker vehicles.
“How does it interact with the vehicle? What are the residual effects of hard-kill APS systems on a vehicle and how does this affect the mission of training infantry soldiers who operate around the vehicle,” are questions the service wrestles with, said he declared.
Failure to answer these questions would not necessarily prevent the military from moving forward with quickly fielding an APS system on Stryker, Venable told Defense News at the conference.
“We have potential solutions,” he said. “If we have to go fast, I don’t know if we have to solve these problems to go fast. If we have to move quickly, today there are effective solutions that can be integrated quickly.
The military would include security and operating restrictions as part of an urgent fielding, he noted.
Venable added that while a system could be quickly brought into service due to an urgent need, more would need to be done if the capability were to transition into a registration program, including a higher level of testing and ratings and is expected to reach a higher percentage. operating requirements.
The Army’s initial plan in 2016 was to rapidly deploy APS to Abrams, Bradley, and Stryker over a few years while developing a future integrated vehicle protection suite for current and future fleets. Although the service tried to move quickly for the interim and integrated modular APS system, the two schedules continued to slip.
Still, still developing a future capability, the Army held a rodeo with vendors in 2021 for a laser warning capability for the system. It selected Danbury Mission Technologies’ AN/VVR-4 laser detection package in February. The company was part of Collins Aerospace but was split in the merger between United Technologies Corporation and Raytheon.
The laser warning capability is the first of its kind to be integrated into the Army Common Interface and Controller, which Lockheed Martin is developing after winning a contract in February 2021.
Core kit integration is to take place through FY24 across Bradley, Abrams, Stryker and the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. The award of a supply contract will occur in the second quarter of FY23, according to budget documents.
The service deployed Abrams tanks with APS in Europe for two years. The systems have participated in exercises and live-fire demonstrations since their deployment in theater.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering ground warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in Journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.