The modernized version of Challenger 2 Mk2, proposed by Rheinmetall. The tank is fitted with additional armor bolted on the turret sides and new, much thicker skirts, new optronic module, 360 cameras and threat detection sensors. Photo: Rheinmetall.

New Interest in Active Protection

The Iron Fist displayed at DSEI was the new Iron Fist Light Configuration (IF-LC) being developed by IMI, the original system manufacturer (OEM). IF-LC uses a modified pedestal that integrates both radar and IR sensors and two rotatable launchers in a common unit that weighs only 100 kg. The entire solution, per vehicle, weighs up to 250 kg. Smaller than the current Iron Fist, IF-LC reduces the vehicle’s silhouette, as it bolts on top of the surface, without penetration of the vehicle’s armor.

Active protection is a new area of interest for the British Army. During DSEI The Leonardo group announced it was selected by the MOD, to demonstrate APS technologies to counter evolving threats. Under the British £10 million Icarus technology demonstration program, the company will focus on the implementation of a ‘UK Sovereign’ electronic architecture for a Modular, Integrated Protection System (MIPS) that will enable MOD to pick and choose specific APS solutions for evolving threats and operational requirements.

On this project, Leonardo is leading a group of UK based companies that include BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin UK, Ultra Electronics, Frazer-Nash, Brighton University, Abstract Solutions, Roke Manor Research and SCISYS. The program will culminate in a live-fire demonstration where the proposed APS solution will be subjected to real threat weapons, such as rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and guided missiles.

BAE Systems is one of two competitors for the British Challenger main battle tank modernization. The upgraded tank will be designated Challenger 2 Mk2. This program now in the evaluation phase maintained a low key at DSEI. The upgrade is expected to introduce modern computing and communications systems, situational awareness and target acquisition. The goal is to bring the tank to the level of automation and sophistication of the Ajax, using similar or identical systems, where possible, while retaining the current chassis and turret. Under the current plan, there are no plans to equip the modernized tank with a smoothbore gun or include active protection capabilities but these are likely to be two major capabilities for the future.

The foreign competitor, Rheinmetall Defense opted to display here its Leopard Tank Advanced Technology Demonstrator, hinting on possible enhancements that could also be included in the British tank. Among the systems offered for Leopard 2 upgrades are active protection – both ADS hard-kill and ROSY soft-kill solutions were displayed, countermeasures systems and passive armor add-ons, improved electronics and more.

BAE Systems displayed IMI’s Iron Fist Lightweight Configuration on its CV9035. The Iron Fist is currently undergoing integration on that type, for the Dutch MOD. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update
Rheinmetall displayed the ADS active protection system on the Leopard 2 advanced technology demonstrator. Each of the ADS modules comprises four EO sensors in two serrated containers located on the sides of the module sides, and an associated radar seen on the left. Multiple ADS Modules are placed on the top, sides, and rear, providing multiple shot opportunities for each side. This modified Leopard 2A7 was the only MBT displayed at DSEI. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update
This laser warning sensor from Rheinmetall is proposed for the Challenger 2 Mk2 modernization. It is designed for integration with the tank’s 360 vision systems and ROSY countermeasures. Photo: Noam Eshel, Defense-Update
Enhanced situational awareness is provided by this add-on kit comprising 360 cameras and infrared the ROSY countermeasure system, both provided by Rheinmetall. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
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