WASHINGTON — The Netherlands awarded BAE Systems a contract last month to test and verify the Iron Fist active protection system (APS) on its CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
IMI Systems' Iron Fist uses a radar to detect, track and intercept incoming rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles among other threats to the vehicle and its crew. IMI Systems was formerly Israeli Military Industries.
The US Army is also in the process of assessing Iron Fist for possible incorporation on combat vehicles, partly spurred by the possibility that Russia is ahead of the US when it comes to armor protection.
BAE did not disclose in a company statement the contract amount to integrate Iron Fist onto the BAE Systems-made vehicles.
The test phase will pre-qualify the APS against threat specifications determined by the Netherlands' Defence Ministry, which will tee up a decision on the next phase of the program in early 2018, Hans de Goeij, project manager at the Dutch Defence Materiel Organisation, said in the BAE statement.
Should the Dutch government decide to proceed with Iron Fist, it would be the first NATO country with an APS "of its kind" on combat vehicles, according to BAE Systems.
The US Army is expected to make key decisions on a way forward to integrate APS onto a variety of combat vehicles next summer. The service will start characterizing APS offerings on Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Stryker combat vehicles starting this month. The Army has already worked on characterization testing on the M1 Abrams tank.
Said to be in the running along with Iron Fist is another Israeli offering — Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Trophy — as well as Rheinmetall Defence’s Active Defense System of Germany and Artis Corporation’s Iron Curtain of the United States.
While Trophy has been fielded on approximately 100 vehicles in Israel and has been used in combat extensively since 2009, Iron Fist was being developed head-to-head with Trophy to be fielded by the Israeli government, but was never integrated.
The service is keeping an open mind in terms of what represents the best possible solution, according to Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the Army’s program executive officer for Army combat vehicles. While one system may work well on a Bradley, another system may be better suited for Stryker or Abrams, for instance.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.