The Army is moving forward with integrating the first active protection system (APS) for U.S. military vehicles capable of withstanding anti-tank missile threats with a $193 million deal to Leonardo DRS to install the Trophy system on its M1 Abrams tank fleet.

Under the deal, awarded on June 15, Leonardo will begin integrating the Trophy APS, developed by Israel’s Rafael, on M1 Abrams following several program delays related to issues with the system’s weight and ability to integrate with the tank’s turret.

Leonardo's Trophy APS, developed by Rafael, on an Army M1 Abrams Tank. Photo: Leonardo DRS
Leonardo’s Trophy APS, developed by Rafael, on an Army M1 Abrams Tank. Photo: Leonardo DRS

“Leonardo DRS is proud to be a part of this important effort to bring life-saving technology to our warfighters, and we are actively investing to ensure Trophy provides a solid, American-made foundation for the Army’s coming Vehicle Protection Suite program,” Aaron Hankins, vice president of Leonardo DRS’ land systems division, said in a statement. “This award is the culmination of several years of hard work by a strong, bi-national government/industry team to protect our warfighters and address a critical capability gap in our armored formations.”

Trophy APS, which is already in full-rate production, would provide a missile defense-like capability on the Abrams by 2020 capable of shielding against anti-tank guided missiles and rocket propelled grenades.

The system would add a half a ton weight to the vehicle but does not slow the already 73-ton vehicle down, Army officials have said previously (Defense Daily, Aug. 2017).

Officials expect to trim down the size of the system as it modernizes and replaces obsolete Abrams’ capabilities currently adding to the vehicle’s weight.

In September 2017, officials temporarily halted the APS program after integration tests with the heavy system caused the Abrams’ turret to become imbalanced (Defense Daily, Sept. 2017).

A report in January called for more testing to be done with the Trophy APS before moving forward with any potential awards. DoD’s director of test & evaluation included the weight of the system as a potential deterrence to the expense of retrofitting Abrams and other Army vehicles with the protection system (Defense Daily, Jan. 30).

Army officials indicated a move toward an imminent contract with a line item in its FY ’19 budget request to equip three Armored Brigade Combat Teams worth of Trophy APS-outfitted Abrams tanks.

The Abrams will be the first U.S. military vehicle with an APS, and Army officials are continuing to explore options such as Trophy for its Bradley and Stryker fleets.