Rheinmetall StrikeShield APS Selected for Substantial Testing by U.S. Army

Tarih: Issue 96 - December 2019

The U.S. Army has awarded a contract valued at 11 Million USD (roughly 10 Million EUR) to the team of Rheinmetall Protection Systems and Unified Business Technologies (UBT) for significant testing of the StrikeShield Active Protection System (APS) to begin in October 2020 at Redstone Test Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Army’s recently formed Vehicle Protective Systems (VPS) Program Office will evaluate StrikeShield as part of a larger effort to characterize APS performance against a wide variety of anti-armor threats. This significant contract award represents the first funded APS testing the Army will undertake of the StrikeShield System. It provides a pathway to potential utilization of the system on vehicles in the current Army vehicle fleet as well as vehicles fielded in the future. 

The StrikeShield APS is a distributed, real time system, which was developed to protect the carrying platform against anti-tank rockets and missiles. It therefore can operate in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle to be protected. Additionally in StrikeShield the technical requirements of large calibre Kinetic Energy (KE) defeat are addressed, which is a unique combination of threats to protect against and reason for the promising overall outlook.

The Army will carry out extensive live fire testing of the StrikeShield System that will take place over a period of several months. The objective of the Army tests will be to gather performance data that can inform future selection of APS technologies best suited for any particular platform. The Army expects the test results will inform APS pursuits for both its fielded vehicle fleets and new vehicle programs like Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) and the Optionally-Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV).

Rheinmetall and UBT have teamed for U.S. active protection programs since 2015. The companies are optimistic that this new Army testing program will lead to further vehicle integration opportunities on U.S. military vehicles and both firms are extremely pleased that the Army has selected StrikeShield for this important program.

“We are excited to enter into a new phase of partnership with the Army that will enable the Army to carry out extensive tests of the StrikeShield APS System,” said Stefan HAASE, Rheinmetall Active Protection GmbH Managing Director on the Hybrid Protection Module. “We are confident the system will perform very well in the testing and that possibilities for fielding the technology on Army vehicle systems will arise.” 

“The StrikeShield System is a world class, mature APS system that will deliver tremendous capability for the U.S. Army,” said UBT CEO Michelle D’SOUZA. “UBT and Rheinmetall are proud to be teamed together as a partner to the Army in addressing the high priority requirement for APS technology.” 

Hybrid Protection Module

Rheinmetall has also developed a modular hybrid configuration of its StrikeShield APS that combines the company’s active and passive protection technologies in a single integrated design. This new configuration was on display at AUSA 2019. The hybrid approach draws on Rheinmetall’s unique expertise as a provider of both APS and armor protection, and the company’s proven track record as a leading vehicle supplier and system integrator. The System’s hybrid and modular design is well suited for integration on both tracked and wheeled vehicles. 

The Hybrid Protection Module allows for an integrated approach: passive protection components simultaneously serve as interface and shield for the components of the active protection system (ADS-Gen.3 Active Vehicle Protection System/AVPS). Conversely, the StrikeShield APS components comprise ballistic functions and characteristics. The specially harmonized bulkhead design features two layers. The first one, the external protection layer, protects the ADS-Gen.3 AVPS components against shell fragments, small arms fire and other sources of mechanical stress. The StrikeShield countermeasures (ADS-Gen.3 AVPS countermeasure components) are embedded in the first protection plate from the outside. The deflector of the countermeasure serves simultaneously as part of the first layer of passive protection. The sensors of the System (a mix of optronics and radar sensors) are contained in the space in between. 

In standalone mode, the complete module already offers additional ballistic protection that significantly enhances the basic integrity of the vehicle hull. The integrated ADS-Gen.3 is effective against rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). It is designed to intercept and destroy ATGMs from ranges as short as 10 meters (33ft) by using a directed explosive detector. The incoming ATGM is detected by a mix of optronics and radar sensors. Operating at 20GHz to 30GHz wavebands the radar sensor can detect incoming ATGMS at ranges of 30m (98ft), but thanks to its very low output power of around 1 watt the radar sensor can not be detected by enemy’s ESM sensors at ranges greater than 350 to 400m. According to Rheinmetall the ADS-Gen.3 can cope with multiple attacks thanks to its capability to defeat 4 incoming missiles/rounds within 0,5m2 area with a timing difference of 100 milliseconds between the missiles/rounds

The prime advantage of this new possibility for StrikeShield APS integration into tactical vehicles is its compact size: the Hybrid Protection Module is less than 150 mm in height. Moreover, it is relatively simple to install and can be mounted onto existing vehicles. The Module thus offers an easy-to-implement way of adding active protection technology to a platform. The new modules can replace existing add-on passive protection elements either completely or in part. Furthermore, the modules can be mounted to vehicles in preparation for a specific mission. 

The Rheinmetall and UBT team will engage the U.S. Army VPS team regarding the potential of the future hybrid module approach on U.S. vehicles as part of its funded testing.