JERUSALEM — BAE Systems Hägglunds has chosen Israeli firm Elbit Systems to provide the Royal Netherlands Army with the Iron Fist active protection system for CV90 armored vehicles under an $82 million contract announced this week.
The Dutch service is also receiving electro-optical commander sights as part of the contract, set to take place over a period of four and a half years, Elbit said in a news release.
Yuval Karakookly, the vice president of survivability for Elbit’s land systems division, said the deal could lead to further work with the CV90 and potential business in other European markets.
BAE is upgrading the Dutch CV90 fleet with new turrets in a $500 million deal announced in mid-January. Some CV90 vehicles were previously equipped with Spike anti-tank missiles made by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Elbit previously supplied digital soldier systems to the Netherlands and won a $24 million contract to supply tactical computers for vehicles, announced in January. Elbit Systems of America and BAE have also teamed up on combat vehicle technology before.
Iron Fist is a hard-kill, lightweight active protection system that uses sensors, radar and countermeasures to stop threats such as rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles. Elbit works with Rada, which makes the radar, for the APS.
Initially designed by Israel Military Industries — now known as IMI Systems — more than a decade ago, the Iron Fist Light Decoupled version was chosen by Israel’s Defense Ministry for its Eitan eight-wheel drive armored fighting vehicle and D9 bulldozer in 2019.
It was also selected for the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle in the U.S. Despite hurdles, Elbit said it is currently ready for qualification trials.
After evaluation of the system in 2018 and 2019, and following engineering and enhancement work, the company now plans to begin serial production of the Light Decoupled variant in Israel and aims for export in the 2023-2024 time frame. The variant enables light vehicles to absorb residual penetration.
Elbit also has a heavier option called Iron Fist Light Kinetic, which can be used as a countermeasure against tank rounds. “We have a prototype that is running, and we had a good test and demonstration of that capability,” Karakookly said.
The company is also configuring Iron Fist to embed soft-kill options and incorporate layers of long-range interceptions for anti-tank guided missiles. Karakookly said that with drone threats accelerating, Elbit is working on a sensor suite to counter UAVs — a capability that is currently is the research and development phase.
Seth J. Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has covered conflict in the Mideast since 2010 for different publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.