MILAN — An Israeli defense company has signed a contract with the British Defence Ministry for the third and final integration of the Trophy active protection system on Challenger 3 tanks, which are expected to enter service in the next few years.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced Sept. 4 it completed the second assessment phase of integrating Trophy on the main battle tanks. The three-week testing period took place late last year and included live fire, of which the Trophy system intercepted more than 90%, according to the news release.
“Over two dozen interceptions were conducted, confronting a wide range of threats, which were defined by the British customer,” Niv Cohen, who leads Rafael’s land maneuver division, told Defense News.
The Trophy system is designed to protect combat vehicles against rockets and missiles by pinpointing the origin of hostile fire and then responding with a range of hard-kill mechanisms such as blasts, fragments, explosively formed projectiles and bullets to destroy the incoming target before it reaches the vehicle.
The £20 million ($25 million) contract will entail the early procurement of an undisclosed number of Trophy systems, countermeasures and test equipment necessary for the qualification and integration effort for the upcoming demonstration phase. This third and final phase is expected to begin in 2024 and will take place at both Rafael’s own facilities in Israel and at test ranges in the U.K.
“Based on our experience in integrating Trophy on various platforms, the integration process can be completed in several months to a year, depending on the pace of tank production,” Cohen said. “This will align with the manufacturing schedule of the tanks.”
European joint venture Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land in the U.K. produces the Challenger 3, which is set to replace an estimated 148 Challenger 2 tanks. The new variant is expected to achieve initial operating capability in 2027 and full operating capability in 2030.
The Trophy is under contract for the serial production of more than 2,000 units, according to Rafael. Cohen noted it is integrated with 17 types of vehicles, including Merkava tanks in service with the Israel Defense Forces, Abrams tanks used by the U.S. military and Leopard 2 tanks fielded by the German armed forces.
In 2021, Rafael, General Dynamics European Land Systems and German business Krauss-Maffei Wegmann established the joint venture EuroTrophy, advertised as the European hub for the Trophy active protection system. Based in Germany, the group focuses on meeting the production needs of European customers.
On Sept. 6, EuroTrophy announced it won a contract by KNDS — a joint venture of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and French firm Nexter — for Trophy to serve as the active protection system baseline for the Leopard 2 A8 tank configuration in Germany and Norway.
According to a statement released by EuroTrophy, the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency commissioned KNDS in February for the delivery of 54 Leopard 2 A8 tanks, all of which would feature the Trophy system. Additionally, the German military’s equipment acquisition office signed a framework agreement in May with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann for the delivery of up to 123 Leopard 2 A8 variants.
Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.