The Army intended to purchase IMI System’s Iron Fist active protection system for its Bradley fighting vehicles, with officials clarifying that a recently released “market survey” notice for a new capability is intended to move the program toward a production decision.

Despite program delays and technical challenges integrating the APS on the vehicles, the Army is set to acquire Iron Fist to meet immediate needs for a mature, tested anti-tank missile shield for its Bradley fleet.

Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Photo: BAE Systems

Ashley John, public affairs director for the Next Generation Combat Vehicle cross-functional team, told Defense Daily the decision followed an Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC) meeting in November, where officials determined Iron Fist was suitable for “urgent qualification and deployment.”

“After reviewing the results of the Army Test and Evaluation Command’s testing, the AROC determined that the Iron Fist system improved the survivability of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle without meaningful impact to the vehicle’s performance or increased risk to dismounted soldiers,” John said.

In August, Army officials detailed setbacks with Iron Fist, which is has been marketed in the U.S. by General Dynamics [GD], but noted the program would be moving forward,

Col. Glenn Dean,  lead official for the Army’s vehicle protection systems effort, told reporters at the time the effort had faced technical delays with integration and funding challenges (Defense Daily, Aug. 24).

Despite the setbacks, the Army is set to move the program into qualification testing before ultimately purchasing Iron Fist.  

“The AROC directed that Bradley [Expedited] APS move into the next phase of urgent qualification testing and in parallel plan for fielding of at least a brigade’s worth of capability on an urgent basis in accordance with existing approved requirements,” John said.

An RFI released on Tuesday seemed to indicate that the Army would be starting a search for a new APS open to any company (Defense Daily, Dec. 13). However, John clarified the “market survey” notice serves to meet the qualifications presented with Iron Fist.

“The recent RFI is the first step in the parallel planning for Bradley APS production of Iron Fist,” John told Defense Daily. “The RFI was released to support the market research requirement for a [Justification & Approval] in support of the future Federal Acquisition Regulation-based production contract.”