Iron Fist hard-kill system only protects American Bradleys 70% of the time

Entering service in the early 2010s to protect the Merkava tanks and the Namer infantry fighting vehicles of the Israeli armed forces, the hard-Kill Trophy and Iron Fist active protection systems of the Israelis Raphael and Elbit, have proven to be a very high efficiency during armed interventions in the occupied Palestinian territories, and intercepting dozens of RPG anti-tank rockets but also Konkurs and Kornet missiles fired by the Iranian Hezbollah. The fact is, no Israeli tank was lost during the military operations of the early 2010s, due to the firing of anti-tank ammunition. This efficiency has not escaped Western armies, in particular the US Army, which decided in 2015 to equip part of its Abrams heavy tanks, its Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and even its transport vehicles of Stryker armored troops, of these systems.

However, if the Namer and the Merkava Mk4 had been specially adapted to receive these systems, the integration of the Trophy on the M1A2 tanks, and even more of the Iron Fist on the Bradley, was very complex. Thus, during the tests in 2018 of the first Bradleys equipped with the Iron Fist, it quickly appeared that the layout of the detection systems and the interception systems made it possible to cover only 50% of the vulnerable perimeter of the armored vehicle. In other words, while the integration of the Iron Fist costs several million dollars per unit, or substantially the price of a Bradley, this system was only capable of intercepting one out of two anti-tank projectiles fired. against him. This low result led to a new phase of study to try to position more effectively the radars ensuring the detection of threats, and the turrets which fire the interception ammunition.

Adding a Hard-kill APS, like here the Trophy to the M1A2 tank, is a complex, expensive and often ineffective exercise.

According to the US Army, the objective has been achieved. Indeed, the last tests carried out in September 2022 showed that now, the Iron Fist system covered 70% of the perimeter surrounding the Bradley M2A4, thanks to the joint efforts of Elbit and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, which is in charge of the program. Thus, the detectors and effectors have been moved to the armored vehicle, a new electronic countermeasures system has been installed while the system software has been deeply modified to give birth to a new version called Iron Fist Light Decoupled. However, the funding to transform a first mechanized brigade by equipping its Bradleys with the Iron Fist has not yet been released by the US Army, which is continuing its trials, in particular concerning the adaptation of the Trophy Light system on the APC Stryker. And this is hardly surprising.

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