No Trophy for FCS, Iraq Troops – Raytheon HTK APS Selected
As part of the USA’s $120+ billion “Future Combat Systems” program, BAE Systems has awarded a phased subcontract worth up to $70 million to Raytheon’s Network Centric Systems business in McKinney, TX, to develop the “hard-kill” Active Protection Subsystem (APS) for the U.S. Army’s FCS Manned Ground Vehicles (MGVs). “Hard-kill” elements include armor and counter-munitions against rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds, top attack munitions and tank-fired kinetic energy (KE) rounds. In contrast, “soft-kill” systems include electronic countermeasures such as jammers, smoke/obscurement, “signature reduction” multi-spectrum camouflage, and decoys.
RPGs represent a ubiquitous threat, especially in urban warfare conditions that are found in theaters like Iraq or Iran and expected to be the “new baseline” for US forces. Countermeasures to date have mostly included “active armor,” which uses an outward-facing blast when hit that disrupts the warhead’s plasma jet; and/or slat armor, which detonates warheads before they hit the vehicle’s main armor and so “misfocuses” the shaped charge. Both systems can be defeated by dual warhead designs like the Russian RPG-27, however, which was recently forecast to have the largest share of international production in its class between 2006-2014.
DefenseTech covers the procurement decision in depth, and notes that the Raytheon’s system is not expected to hit the field before 2010, whereas Rafael’s competitive Trophy system is already past the testing stage and headed for field installation. Note that Trophy is NOT a “force field,” – see this article for a good description of what it does. The Raytheon “hit to kill” APS is expected to use a similar approach. It is slated for a number of future vehicles, as well as present vehicles like the Stryker et. al…
Raytheon’s selection was actually the result of decisions by FCS Lead System integrators Boeing and partner Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), following an extensive evaluation process. Under the FCS manned ground vehicle contracts, however, BAE Systems has responsibility for five of the eight MGV variants and leads the “hit avoidance integrated product team.”
BAE is responsible for the:
- Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) replacement for the M2 Bradley and M1126 Stryker;
- Medical Vehicle (MV) APC ambulace;
- Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) self-propelled artillery;
- Non-Line of Sight Mortar (NLOS-M), which may include the AMOS twin-120mm breech-loading mortars;
- FCS Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle (FRMV), which can tow damaged or stuck vehicles or perform related engineering tasks.
Other vehicles in the FVCS MGV vehicle family will include:
- Reconnaissance and Surveillance Vehicle (RSV)
- Command and Control Vehicle (C2V). Mobile command post with high-bandwidth networking and lots of computer equipment.
- Mounted Combat System (MCS). There is some idea that it may be possible to replace the protection and firepower of the 60-ton M1 Abrams with a smaller 25-ton vehicle. Deadly fantasy that will get Americans killed by the hundreds? Or is it an exciting possibility that improves deployability and avoids situations like the Balkans, where it was determined that many of Kosovo’s bridges couldn’t support US tanks? Results remain to be seen, but the APS’ performance will be key.
BAE Systems will work with FCS MGV teammate General Dynamics to integrate the Raytheon-developed hard-kill APS with soft-kill countermeasures, obscurants, and decision aid software into the overall MGV family protection system.