The Army is expected to make key decisions on a way forward to integrate Active Protection Systems (APS) onto a variety of combat vehicles next summer, according to the program executive officer for Army combat vehicles.

The service will characterize APS offerings on Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Stryker combat vehicles starting in January, Maj. Gen. David Bassett told a small group of reporters Thursday at the BAE Systems unveiling of the service’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) at its facility in York, Pennsylvania. Kicking off the activities, the Army will host a VIP day at its Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Michigan, Friday, he said.

The systems are intended to provide advanced protection for the Army’s combat vehicles against rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank guided missiles and other threats. The Army has already worked on characterization testing on the M1 Abrams tank.

The Army intends to install a range of matured and improved commercial APS solutions across the ground combat portfolio. By prototyping combinations of systems and vehicles cooperatively with the service’s science and technology branch, the Army hopes to reduce both acquisition and operational risk and get solutions fielded quickly.

The service plans to wrap up testing of a range of APS systems on various vehicles and will make decisions on the right solutions next summer, Bassett said. The service is keeping an open mind in terms of what represents the best possible solution, he added. While one system may work well on a Bradley, another system may be better suited for Stryker or Abrams, for instance.

The Army is looking at four different APS offerings, three of which are foreign, two are from Israel. Trophy — designed and manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems – has been battle tested during border patrols in the Gaza Strip as well as during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. DRS Technologies is serving as a partner in the US.

The other Israeli offering is Israeli Military Industry’s (IMI) Iron Fist. Rheinmetall Defence, a German company, is said to have a candidate – its Active Defense System – in the running. And Artis Corporation’s Iron Curtain is the US-based offering.

Partly spurring the effort is the possibility that Russia is ahead of the US Army when it comes to armor protection.

While the Army has yet to make its fielding plans known, a widely held belief is that the service will field a brigade’s worth of each vehicle with APS as it continues to work toward its own program, the Modular Active Protection System.

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