TEL AVIV — An Israel-US team will debut at this week's AUSA exhibition a demonstrator all-terrain vehicle featuring a version of the Trophy active protection system.
Installed on an Oshkosh four-wheel-drive,4x4 mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle, the joint demonstrator features Trophy LV, a light vehicle version of the system that has successfully defended Israeli tank crews against anti-tank, RPG and other threats since it was first deployed in August 2009.
The force protecting, ground-maneuvering demonstrator also features Rafael’s Mini Samson, a remotely controlled weapon station that allows crews inside the vehicle to launch Spike long-range anti-tank missiles without exposing themselves to enemy fire.
"Every year, we get numerous reminders that it's almost impossible to maneuver on the battlefield without an active protection system," said Giora Katz, Rafael executive vice president and general manager of the firm's land and naval division.
"When militaries and peacekeeping forces are facing millions of relatively cheap weapons in the hands of terrorists and other organizations, you better have some kind of protection like Trophy if you want to survive," he said.
In an Oct. 6 interview, Katz said Trophy LV is optimized for vehicles as light as 3three tons, has been tested in hundreds of different scenarios, and draws on operational lessons gleaned over the course of two wars in Gaza and continuous deployments along Israel’s borders.
"Hundreds of Trophy-equipped tanks participated in Protective Edge and the results were crystal clear," he said of Israel's summer 2014 maneuvering war against rocket launching cells and underground attack routes in the Gaza Strip.
Like the heavier version, Trophy LV is designed to automatically detect threats, determine if they are headed for the defended zone enveloping the platform, and destroying all incomings with what the firm calls "energetic blades." The modular system combines radar and electro-optic sensors against unitary and tandem warhead RPGs and can include a n add-on soft kill jammer against anti-tank (AT) guided missiles.
According to the firm’s brochure, Trophy-LV "ensures 360-degree protection, including high-elevation, vehicle windows and doors," and has been demonstrated to provide "high kill probability against current advanced threats."
Katz emphasized that Rafael does not yet have an agreement with Oshkosh to mass produce Trophy LV for the many thousands of new Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) that the US firm plans to build for the US Army and US Marine Corps under a multibillion dollar contract awarded in August.
Nevertheless, as the provider of "the world’s only combat-proven APS for armored vehicles," Katz said Rafael is well positioned to serve as subcontractor to Oshkosh or any major systems provider in need of a mature and validated active protection system.
"We don't have an agreement with Oshkosh about the Trophy system. What we do have is a joint demonstrator for the AUSA exhibition, and this is a good start … as this kind of system is one of the capabilities that is essential for JLTV," Katz said.
Meanwhile, Rafael is talking "with all kinds of OEMs [original equipment manufacturers], not only about a Trophy, but other systems as well since our capabilities are add-ons that are relatively effortless to install without penetrating the surface of the vehicles," Katz said.
"Oshkosh Defense is honored to provide the world's most capable, battle-proven MRAP vehicles to support our customers' missions around the world," said John Urias, retired US Army major general and (Retired), executive vice president, Oshkosh Corp. and president, Oshkosh Defense.
"In addition to designing these powerful military vehicles, we have an extensive engineering capability that allows us to collaborate with companies across the industry to seamlessly integrate advanced technologies such as APS and C4 SR to keep troops safer and more connected as they perform their missions."
Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at www.opall-rome.com.