The Army’s fiscal 2019 budget request includes funding to equip three Armored Brigade Combat Teams worth of Abrams tanks with Trophy active protection systems (APS) capable of knocking down enemy guided missiles.
Together with the 87 Trophy systems included in fiscal 2018 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, the Army is preparing to purchase 369 of the missile shields at a total cost of $451 million.
“This funding supports the procurement and field application of Active and Passive Protection Systems, countermeasures, components and labor to optimize the safety and survivability of the Abrams main battle tank,” the Army’s budget justification book says. “Production of the Active Protection systems began in FY 2018, installation and additional procurement will occur in FY 2019. Application both as a field modification and on new variants on the production line will be continuous.”
After a year of installation and characterization of Trophy on Abrams, the Army decided in October to outfit a brigade’s worth of M1A2 Abrams with the guided missile shields by 2020.
The Army budgeted $111 million in fiscal 2018 to purchase the first 87 Trophy systems for a single brigade of tanks. It included another $34 million in OCO funding in fiscal 2019 to pay for installation of those systems, “which is critical to counter anti-armor capabilities in near-peer adversaries,” according to budget documents.
A fiscal 2019 base-budget outlay of $339.8 million will purchase 282 Trophy sets, but the systems comes with several other recurring and non-recurring costs. The Army budgeted $138 million for non-recurring costs including “turret mitigation” work to rebalance the tank’s turret to accept the 5,000-pound system.
Another $100.8 million is budgeted in fiscal 2019 for countermeasures the APS uses to defeat incoming threat missiles.
General Dynamics Land Systems on Sept. 28 was awarded a $9.9 million contract to begin procurement and integration of the Trophy on a brigade set of Abrams destined for Europe. That contract is for designing and building physical mounting kits for Trophy, which is made by Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and distributed in the U.S. by Leonardo DRS.
DRS declined to comment for this article, but Mike O’Leary, director of survivability and lethality for DRS Land Systems, previously told Defense Daily that the more systems the Army ordered, the more likely Rafael would be to invest in hiking its production capacity to meet U.S. demand.
The Israelis could be convinced to divert some of its production to the U.S. program and a U.S. Army decision to equip another two brigades could entice Rafael to speed production, O’Leary said in October at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.
“You can go faster for three [brigades] for less money than you could for the one [brigade],” he said in that interview.