Germany has signed a contract to purchase the Israeli Trophy active protection system for its Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks. The installation and integration of the system into the tank are to be carried out by Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), the Leopard’s manufacturer.
The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology, and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) has signed a Government to Government contract with Israel regarding the acquisition of the Trophy active protection system (APS) for the Bundeswehr’s Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank (MBT) on February 22nd.
The installation and integration of the system into the tank are to be carried out by Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), the Leopard’s manufacturer. The agreement also includes ammunition for Trophy, a comprehensive set of spare parts, measuring and testing equipment, transportation, and storage containers, as well as the training of the tank's crew and its maintenance personnel. KMW said that the integration of Trophy into the Leopard 2A7 is to be completed by 2023.
"It includes the provision of systems for a company of tanks, interceptors, and spare parts as well as operational and technical training. The systems will be delivered over the next several years." - said the Israeli Ministry of Defence.
Since 2011, the Trophy APS has been in use by Israel on its Merkava 3 and 4 MBTs, as well as its Namer armoured personnel carriers (APC). According to Rafael, Trophy is the first and only fully operational active protection system and can be deployed on any armoured fighting vehicle (AFV). It has accrued over 1,000,000 operating hours, including 5,400 successful field tests, and is now under contract for serial production of over 1,800 systems. At the beginning of this year, Leonardo DRS, Rafaels American partner, revealed that the final Trophy systems had been installed on the Abrams Tank of the US Army. This completed a contract awarded on an urgent needs’ basis, with deliveries having originally started in 2019
Last year, KMW celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Leopard 2s service in the Bundeswehr. Designed as a ‘Cold Warrior’, it could hold its myth of invincibility into the 21st century, as no units were lost during its deployment in Kosovo or in Afghanistan. As of late, however, this myth has been dispelled: In December 2016 Turkey deployed several of its over 300 Leopard 2 to Syria. Since then, there had been numerous reports and photos of the tanks being destroyed and abandoned. These losses have largely been due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM).
Turkey fielded one of the older and the last Cold War variant of the tank, the A4. Since then, there had been numerous upgrades to the tank. The A5, A6 and A7 variants tried to remedy the threats to the MBT in the modern environment, especially those posed by likely weapons of insurgents: IEDs, ATGMs, and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). However, all these upgrades have been entirely passive additions to the vehicles front, side and underside armour. Until now, the A6, A6M and A7 versions used by the Bundeswehr, along with its other AFVs, had lacked any sort of APS, which is becoming the standard for modern armoured vehicles.
This most recent decision follows the award of a contract to Rheinmetall and MBDA in January and February this year. In January, a consortium of Rheinmetall and MBDA won the contract to fabricate, integrate and support testing of a laser weapon demonstrator in the maritime environment. The laser weapon demonstrator is to be fabricated, tested, and integrated by the end of the 2021. Trials onboard the German Navy frigate F-124 Sachsen are to take place in 2022. In February, Rheinmetall was awarded the order to modernize 27 Boxer wheeled command APC. These modernisations to the A2 standard include the driver’s visualisation system, the vehicle’s satellite communications capability, voice and data transmission as well as software and system security modifications. This order will ensure that the Bundeswehr’s entire fleet of 65 Boxer command vehicles reflects the latest tactical and technical state of the art.
“The project management Leopard 2 in the ‘Combat’ department of the BAAINBw is very delighted, to be able to acquire the internationally accomplished TROPHY system. We thank the Israeli side for their excellent cooperation regarding active protection systems for the sake of the soldiers of our armoured forces,” said the department manager at the BAAINBw responsible for the Leopard 2 project.
“Germany is joining a group of nations who have chosen the TROPHY APS to protect their troops and assets from the ever-increasing threat of anti-armor warfare. We are thankful to the German government for joining other user nations and for their confidence in our system and our experience, and we look forward to working with KMW," Dr. Ran Gozali, Executive VP and head of RAFAEL’s Land and Naval Division commented.
Rafael expects the procurement of additional Trophy systems to equip most of Germany’s modern fleet of Leopard 2 with APS capabilities.