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Now things can go fast with the contracts to equip Leopard 2 main battle tanks with the Trophy active protection system from Israeli production. On January 27, 2021, the specialist committees of the German Bundestag for defense and budget approved the corresponding 25 million euro bill. Now the prepared contracts can be concluded and work can begin. Actually, according to known planning, this state should already be reached in October 2020.

“In addition to one's own firepower and mobility, protection is also decisive for the assertiveness of the armored troops in combat. The system chosen can significantly reduce the threat posed by anti-tank guided missiles and handguns, ”stated a spokesman for the German armed forces.

The Bundeswehr wants to equip 17 Leopard 2 battle tanks with Trophy - that's the equipment for a tank company - and also a test vehicle.

To this end, Rafael, the manufacturer of the Trophy System, is to supply 187 distance-active protection systems in 23 sets of equipment and the associated ammunition for around 40 million euros. The focus of deliveries is expected in 2023. In addition, the training of management personnel (operators and repairers) is contractually agreed.

Trophy für Leopard 2 ab 2024
Trophy on M1 Abrams with the front radar sensors and detectors on the left and right of the tower, photo: Rafael

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) is commissioned with the integration of the protective systems into the battle tanks and the delivery of the equipped battle tanks. The contract is endowed with around 80 million euros, around two thirds of the volume for the entire project. The federal government provides 17 Leopard 2 A6 A3 towers and one tower (Leopard 2 VT-ETB) for the test vehicle, into which the protection systems are integrated by KMW. The towers with built-in trophy systems are "married" to newly built chassis, which KMW is producing especially for this project. New chassis are required, among other things, to accommodate the additional power supply that is required. KMW also supplies special containers for the transport and storage of components, special tools and accessories for the protection system. This includes trophy dummies that are used when the armed systems cannot or should not be set up.

The schedule provides for the work to begin immediately. The focus of the work is planned for 2023. Then the main battle tanks with protective systems are to be delivered in 2024 and 2025. It was previously planned to start Trophy integration in 2019 so that the then specially protected tanks could be used in the NATO spearhead VJTF 2023.

Trophy für Leopard 2 ab 2024
Trophy für Leopard 2 ab 2024

Trophy essentially consists of four components. Flat AESA radar sensors capture the battlefield around the tank and represent approaching objects. The evaluation and fire control electronics classify the objects and assess whether they pose a threat to the tank. If so, the active agent launchers are aimed at the target and a project-forming charge (Multiple Explosively Formed Projectile, MEFP) is fired as a countermeasure, which neutralizes the threat at an optimal distance so that no significant damage is caused to the vehicle. The fourth component is the energy supply in the specially adapted armored chassis.

In addition to the effectiveness, the decisive application criterion is the safety of the automatic triggering of the system. On the one hand, Trophy must reliably detect threats and reliably trigger countermeasures. On the other hand, false tripping must not occur. When the system is switched on, the effective area of ​​the countermeasure is the danger area in which no one is allowed to be. The dilemma between protecting the tank crew and endangering forces in the vicinity is an important issue in the training of tank crews.

Trophy has been in use in Israel for ten years and has proven itself in more than a million hours of operation. The US armed forces completed the equipping of more than 300 main battle tanks with Trophy at the end of 2020.

Gerhard Heiming