US Army’s Mighty Abrams Tanks Could Be ‘Sitting Ducks’ For New-Age Adversaries — Expert Panel

The US Army’s Abrams most important battle tanks, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and Stryker fight autos may very well be sitting geese for enemy drone assaults.

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The Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) just lately enquired the US navy about its plans of the service to deploy Vehicle Protection Systems (VPS) that might maintain tank crews protected from drones. The panel is at present debating the protection authorization invoice for the fiscal yr 2022.

“The committee has persistently supported the Army’s efforts to establish, develop, combine and take a look at numerous energetic and passive automobile safety programs (VPS) that might improve armored automobile survivability and shield crew and passengers,” the subcommittee wrote in its report.

“[But] the committee is unclear, nevertheless, as to VPS analysis or growth efforts associated to potential threats from [UAS],” it added, expressing concern over the prevailing efforts of the US navy on how efficient the safety programs are in opposition to drone threats.

US Army’s Abrams most important battle tanks. (by way of Twitter)

US lawmakers have really useful the energetic safety programs (APS) for the armored automobile fleets since they insulate in opposition to anti-tank rockets, missiles in addition to drones.

The Army has been struggling for years to put in energetic safety programs onto its Abrams tanks, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and Stryker fight autos.

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Drone Threat Against Tanks

In the final decade, drones have develop into a serious risk to navy troops and the weapon arsenal. These unmanned aerial autos have impacted navy outcomes in conflicts just like the Nagorno-Karabakh through which Turkish drones aided the Azerbaijan facet to victory in opposition to rival Armenia.

Popular Mechanics reported how drones have been actively utilized in Ukraine, Libya, Iraq, and Syria to drop primitive explosive payloads or launch ‘Kamikaze’ (suicide) assaults previously few years.

In 2017, a drone assault on a Ukrainian ammunition dump destroyed an estimated $1 billion in munitions. In the identical yr, an ISIS drone dropped a small explosive machine on an unsuspecting Iraqi Army tank, killing the commander as he stood uncovered exterior of his hatch.

UN report even accused Turkey of creating autonomous drones which don’t require human interference earlier than killing a goal, an allegation the drone maker later rejected, saying the UAVs usually are not autonomous however are managed by crews.

Protection Against Drones

In 2016, the US selected the Trophy Active Protection System (APS) developed by Israeli firm Rafael for the Abrams tanks. Similarly, the Iron Fist system from one other Israeli firm known as IMI was chosen for the Bradley and Herdon system, a Virginia-based Artis’ Iron Curtain for Stryker tanks.

While the US has been profitable in fielding the interim Trophy APS system on the Abrams tanks, it has struggled to combine the Bradley and Stryker tanks with chosen safety programs.

Trophy Active Protection System APS for battle tanks, developed by Israeli firm Rafael. (Image: Rafael protection System)

Later in 2018, the procurement of the Herdon system was canceled for Stryker tanks, and as a substitute, two extra programs have been shortlisted, known as Rafael’s Trophy VPS and Rheinmetall’s Active Defense System.

A yr later, Col. Glenn Dean, this system supervisor for Stryker, who additionally manages the service’s effort to put in APS on fight autos revealed that the US Army had not but discovered a system that was appropriate for the platform.

“Both Rheinmetall and the medium-weight Trophy, each have maturity challenges, however the backside line is that they turned out to not be an acceptable match for Stryker,” Dean instructed Defense News.

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Looking on the rising threats akin to drones and laser weapons, consultants recommend that maybe the perfect Army protection may be a “microwave weapon” that may take down a number of drones directly.

One such system is the Army’s laser warning program that’s tied to the Modular Active Protection System (MAPS) program. The MAPS is a system beneath growth with the Army that includes a standard controller into which hard-kill and soft-kill safety might be plugged.

US aerospace large Lockheed Martin was additionally awarded a $30 million contract earlier this yr for integrating and formally testing its open-architecture processor designed to manage the US Army’s future fight automobile safety system.

The firm shall be creating base kits for US Modular Active Protection System (MAPS) program, which then shall be personalized with sensors and countermeasures for various autos by 2023.

“Under the 36-month contract, Lockheed Martin will ship 5 production-ready base kits with an choice for as much as 20, and help Army integration and testing on Abrams, Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, Bradley and Stryker autos,” the corporate’s press release mentioned.

“The contract additionally covers creating base package help for automobile safety capabilities past energetic safety, akin to underbelly blast safety,” it added.

In addition, the US authorities had launched $16 million in FY21 to conduct testing of the Iron Fist Light Decoupled part 2 system on a Bradley.

The committee’s dialogue concluded with the panel directing the Army’s acquisition chief to temporary the House Armed Services Committee no later than Jan. 28, 2022, on “plans associated to VPS in opposition to UAS threats”, together with what the efforts may cost, from analysis by means of procurement, throughout a five-year program price range cycle.

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