A US M1 Abrams tank fires during the "Saber Strike" NATO military exercise in Adazi, Latvia, June 11, 2016..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A brigade of more than 80 Abrams tanks belonging to the US military are expected to be deployed to Europe in 2020 armed with Israel’s Trophy active-protection system to counter the growing threat from Russia.
According to a report by Military.com, US Army officials made the comments Monday at the Association of the US Army’s annual convention and exhibition in Washington.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who gave the keynote address, said the international arena is the most complex and demanding he had seen in more than four decades of service and that the US military must be “fit for their purpose, fit for their time in these days of emerging challenges.”
For the first time since World War II, national borders in Europe have been changed by the force of arms, Mattis said, referring to the annexation and occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea by Russia in 2014.
“One country proved willing to ignore international law to exercise a veto authority over its neighbors’ rights to make decisions in the economic, diplomatic and security domain,” he said.
As part of the European Reassurance Initiative, a multi-billion dollar Pentagon plan to deter Russian aggression and reassure European allies, the US has two combat brigades permanently positioned in Europe – the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany and the 173rd Airborne in Italy. There is also a rotational armored brigade of 4,000 soldiers deployed in Europe with an additional 1,750 troops from an aviation brigade.
But, according to Army Gen. Curtis M.
Scaparrotti, leader of US European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, more forces, including increased armor and infantry, are needed to deter future military aggression by Russia.
“Russia’s posture is not a light force. It’s a heavy force,” he told a Senate appropriations subcommittee in May.
The US has understood that ground forces and armored vehicles are sitting ducks without any active protection system due to the proliferation of anti-tank weaponry in the hands of both state militaries and insurgent groups, including by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine who have been reported to be using Russian-made Kornet missiles, which can strike targets more than 5 kilometers away using a laser beam to direct the missile, which can pierce standard armor 1,000–1,200 millimeters thick.
As reported by The Jerusalem Post earlier this month, the US Army has given the green-light to install the Israeli Trophy active protection system on a number of its M1A2 Abrams tanks, contracting Michigan- based General Dynamics Land System to add the system on an Armor Brigade Combat Team’s M1A2 SEPv2 at a cost of close to $10 million with an estimated completion date expected by the end of March 2019.
The Trophy Active Protection System, developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Group, is the only fully operational and combat-proven APS in the world.
It received its “baptism by fire” on March 1, 2011, when it neutralized an RPG antitank rocket fired from short range toward an IDF Merkava Mark-IV tank close to the Gaza border. The Trophy has proven its efficacy in several operations, especially during Operation Protective Edge when IDF tanks operated in the Gaza Strip without suffering any losses.
Designed to detect and neutralize incoming projectiles, the Trophy system has four radar antennas and fire-control radars to track incoming threats such as anti-tankguided- missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.
Once a projectile is detected, the Trophy system fires a shotgun-type blast to neutralize the threat.
Speaking at AUSA, Army Col. Glenn Dean, the project manager of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Combat Ground Systemsm was quoted by Military.com as saying the Israeli-made system “exceeded expectations.”
“I tried to kill the Abrams tank 48 times and failed,” he said.