Military technological development is like a constant game of rock-paper-scissors. Machine guns contributed to the invention of the tank, which led to the invention of anti-tank weapons. This prompted designers to make tank armor thicker and anti-tank weapon designers to make more lethal munitions. In the 21st century, with sabot and high-explosive anti-tank munitions, armored vehicles depend more on reactive armor than thick armor to survive on the battlefield. However, adding another layer of protection to vehicles, Israel introduced the Trophy APS (Active Protection System).
How does the Trophy APS work?
Trophy was developed in the early 2000s by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., one of the companies that developed Israel's famed Iron Dome air defense system. In the same way that Iron Dome intercepts incoming missiles, rockets, artillery shells, and mortars before they can strike Israeli cities, Trophy intercepts anti-tank missiles and rockets before they reach the vehicle it is mounted on. The system tracks incoming projectiles with radar and launches explosively formed projectiles to intercept and destroy incoming projectiles.
In 2007, the first production contract for Trophy was signed. Three years later, the system's safety certification was granted and deliveries to the Israeli Defense Forces began immediately. Over 1,000 Trophy systems are currently fielded on all IDF ground combat platforms including the Merkava main battle tank and Namer armored personnel carrier. By 2017, Rafael reported that Trophy accrued over 50,000 hours of operational deployment with a 100% success rate in all low and high-intensity combat events, including urban, open, and forested terrain.
The performance of Trophy with the IDF prompted interest from allied countries, including the United States. In 2017, the Army's Redstone Arsenal tested Trophy on an M1 Abrams against a barrage of munitions. "I tried to kill the Abrams tank with ATGM 48 times and failed," project manager Col. Glenn Dean told Military.com, "despite the fact that some of them were supersonic." In 2021, 400 systems were delivered to the U.S. Army to equip Abrams tanks.
Also in 2021, the German military tested and purchased Trophy for its Leopard 2 main battle tank. According to the Israeli Defense Ministry, over 90% of the attacks during the trial were intercepted. That same year, the UK Ministry of Defence began testing Trophy for integration on the Challenger 3 main battle tank.