WASHINGTON – At the end of last year, the US Army had almost completed the necessary tests to integrate a system to protect its fleet of Bradley combat vehicles, but the service is still not looking for money to buy the Iron Fist in its next budget.

The military has faced technical problems and funding gaps in its efforts to set up an active defense system for Bradley’s infantry fighting vehicle. Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, executive director of the army’s ground combat systems program, told Defense News in the fall that Iron Fist was nearing completion of most of the required tests.

According to the documents justifying the 2023 budget, the army planned to complete testing and integration work by the end of fiscal year 22, but the documents did not provide for further scheduling or funding.

“Essentially, we’re getting to the point where we’re just waiting for resources provided by the military or Congress to proceed with supplies,” Dean said.

The Bradley Iron Fist Light Decoupled, or IF-LD, program received additional funding from Congress for fiscal year 22 – a total of $ 16 million – to continue the second round of testing and complete documentation to support the purchase of IF-LD systems worth one brigade.

“No funds have been identified so far for the purchase of IF-LD systems,” the army’s ground combat systems confirmed.

An army spokesman also told Defense News in a statement that the service “will review the data from the IF-LD test and look for opportunities to fund this requirement in the future.”

Iron Fist was developed by IMI Systems. The Israeli company Elbit Systems, which acquired IMI, has partnered with US firm General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems to integrate the system to serve as Bradley’s temporary active protection system.

The system is designed to provide Bradley with protection from rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank guided missiles and other threats. The Army Oversight Board in November 2018 chose to send a brigade by the end of the fourth quarter of the 20th financial year.

Despite the council’s decision, Bradley was unable to deliver enough power to the launch system, and Iron Fist faced a loss of ammunition during testing. These problems delayed the program by about a year.

In earlier tests, “we had some issues with Iron Fist, mostly maturity issues, and it’s focused on power in the Iron Fist system itself and an ignition train problem in the interceptor,” Tim Neeves, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, senior director. on business development, he told Defense News last fall.

Based on these tests, Neeves said the company is working with the military to find a solution that includes domestic investment to continue development and testing. The company has been working on this solution for the past 18 months.

“We’ve come to the point where we’ve demonstrated that we’ve fixed these issues, and we’ve got a significant level of maturity and demonstration of performance within the system,” Neeves said. He explained that the system faced about 400 threats, including single and double warheads, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifles.

In 2016, the military determined that it needed a temporary active defense system for Abrams tanks, Stryker combat vehicles and Bradley vehicles, so the service decided to quickly assess ready-made APS systems to meet this urgent need.

The military has already placed the APS tanks developed by Rafael Trophy on Abrams tanks. The troops have been using those of the European theater for more than a year.

But the service has also run into problems finding an effective system that works for Stryker, and has yet to decide on the way forward.

Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., Recently cited the effective use of Javelin anti-tank guided missile systems against Russian tanks and armored vehicles in Ukraine. “The wide range of affordable, easy-to-manage ATGMs has certainly changed the calculation of battlefield armor,” he said on May 5th during a hearing on the army’s position on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Other countries around the world, some of our allies, have taken the decision and are putting it on their armored vehicles in a rather aggressive way,” Peters told Active Defense Systems. “The United States seems to be somewhat reluctant, except for a small number of our Abrams tanks that have the systems. For example, the military does not appear to have a plan to test and use defense systems for the entire fleet of Strykers, for example, or other armored vehicles.

Secretary of War Christine Warmouth said the service was closely monitoring the war in Ukraine and “is certainly very concerned about the threats to our tanks.”

“I think the defense systems we have on our Abrams, on our Strikers, are pretty good,” she said, adding that she was ready to look in more detail at the army’s next steps. “There is a balance between how quickly we can upgrade some of our enduring platforms, such as Stryker, while upgrading.

The military is working on a vehicle protection package, according to the budget justification documents for fiscal year 23, which will create various options through a base kit or VBK, to “develop configurable vehicle survival kits to mitigate existing gaps in protection will allow future insertion technologies to respond to evolving threats and minimize the impact on current capabilities hosted on the Army’s ground combat and tactical vehicle platforms.

The military held a rodeo with suppliers in 2021 for the possibility of a laser warning for the system. He chose Danbury Mission Technologies’ AN / VVR-4 laser detection kit in February. The company was part of Collins Aerospace, but was separated during the merger of United Technologies Corporation and Raytheon.

The laser warning capability is the first of its kind to be integrated with the army’s common interface and controller, which Lockheed Martin developed after winning the contract in February.

The integration of the main set is to take place in the 24th year of the financial year in Bradley, Abrams, Stryker and armored multi-purpose vehicles. The award of a public procurement contract will take place in the second quarter of fiscal year 23, according to budget documents.

Survival improvements will be included in the opportunities in the 26th financial year, with a decision on public procurement for protection against threats attacking from above – such as drones – in the second quarter of the 24th financial year, and an integration decision on the ability to kill smoothly in the first quarter of fiscal year 27. , according to the documents.

The trade study for the vehicle protection package is ongoing and is expected to be completed in the middle of the 23rd financial year, the budget documents say.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering Land News for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in arts from Kenyon College.


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