ASPRO-A Active Protection System for AFVs
The ASPRO-A (Trophy) active protection system system rapidly detects and tracks any anti-tank threat, classifies it, estimates the optimal intercept point in space and finally neutralizes it away from the platform using a countermeasure. The threat detection and warning subsystem consists of several sensors, including search radar with four flat-panel antennas, located around the protected vehicle, to provide full hemispherical coverage. The neutralization process will take place only if the threat is about to hit the platform.
The Trophy combines two main systems: a radar built by Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI) subsidiary Elta Systems group, detects threats; and a Rafaeldesigned system destroys incoming threats in flight. Rafael claims that the Trophy can protect armored fighting vehicles against all types of anti-tank rockets and missiles. The two conceptual innovations incorporated into the Trophy are 360-degree protection of the tank or APC, which eliminates the need for adding armor plating, which can double a tank's weight, restricting its mobility and maneuverability; and to provide protection from new threats from the side and top in low-intensity combat, compared with frontal threats of the past. Frontal protection was the rationale behind development of Israel's Merkava tank, in which the engine is in front. In low-intensity combat in populated and urban areas, threats to armored fighting vehicles can come from every direction and angle.
In March 2005 Haifa, Israel - RAFAEL Armament Development Authority Ltd., as prime contractor and ELTA Systems Group as part of the team, introduce the TROPHY Active Protection System (APS) for Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFV). The TROPHY is a unique and advanced system that offers a solution for a variety of anti-tank missile threats. The TROPHY system rapidly detects and tracks the anti-tank missile threat, classifies it, estimates the optimal intercept point in space and finally neutralizes it away from the platform.
"Until recently, APS systems such as TROPHY were considered science fiction" says Dr. Eitan Yudilevich, Corporate VP Marketing and Business Development at RAFAEL. "We've made them a reality. AFVs equipped with TROPHY will benefit from improved survivability and overall effectiveness." TROPHY was said to be ready in 2005 for integration onto heavy, medium and light platforms against all types of HEAT threats including all known types of Anti Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) and Anti Tank Rockets (ATR).
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By early 2006 The US Naval Surface Warfare Center in Virginia had successfully tested the Israeli Trophy Active Protection System for tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs). the IDF Ground Forces Command sent a Trophy-equipped Stryker (one of three purchased for testing by the IDF) to the US Naval Surface Warfare Center. A US Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo made a special trip to collect the Stryker for the test. The Trophy system was tested in late March at testing grounds at Dahlgren, Virginia, before representatives of countries with military units in Iraq, and senior US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps officers and Pentagon officials. During the live-fire exercise, rocket-propelled grenades (RPG-7) were fired at the Israeli Stryker. The Trophy destroyed one RPG shell in flight, and a second shell was diverted off course, rendering it no threat and was ignored by the system.
At that time, Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd., the system's developer, predicted that the Pentagon will equip its Stryker 8x8 combat vehicles serving in Iraq with the armor. Rafael believes that the US wants to install the Trophy on all Strykers operating in Iraq: two brigades of 300 Strykers each, at an estimated cost of $350,000-500,000 per Trophy.
In mid-2006 the Pentagon has awarded Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd. $1 million for the development of the Trophy active protection system, ahead of possible trials on armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) operating in Iraq.
The Ministry of Defense has authorized Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI) to market its own active protection system, called Iron Fist, internationally. IMI is negotiating joint marketing agreements with a number of US companies. IMI CEO Avi Felder claimed that Iron First was better than the Trophy, because the Trophy only protected AFVs from antitank missiles, whereas the Iron First also provided solutions against hits by kinetic munitions (shells). He also claimed that Rafael's threat neutralization system that destroys incoming missiles creates ricochets that fly dozens of meters at high speed, endangering friendly troops. In contrast, the Iron First uses shock waves to destroy incoming missiles.
With the deployment of Merkava Mk 4 tanks equipped with Rafael Defense Systems' Trophy (ASPRO-A) Active Protection Systems (APS) along the Gaza border, that followed a Merkava tank being hit by a Kornet anti-tank missile fired by the Palestinians, battle testing of the Trophy APS was only a matter of time. The system was baptized in combat in March 2011, proving its worth in a first combat engagement with a hostile RPG, fired by Palestinian anti-tank team from Gaza. The system and crew performed exactly as expected, integrating automatic response to neutralize an immediate threat, rapid situational understanding and decision and forcible response, effectively eliminating the threat.
During Protective Edge, this system saved 15 tanks from anti-tank missile hits, four of which with battalion commanders in them.
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, former commandant of the Army War College, said Trophy was “just typical Israeli overhype and ineffectiveness. It was a great killer of accompanying infantry ... They have a very simple and unreliable and very expensive radar system that sits on the turret, and when it detects something coming in, these shotgun shells fire out, much like you’d shoot at clay pigeons…..Here’s the problem with that: If you have infantry nearby, then you kill the infantry."
Manufacturer Rafael claimed a “less than one percent" chance that Trophy will shred friendly infantry by accident, but the Israelis modified their tactics. The infantry had to follow a safe distance behind the tanks, rather than accompany them.