U.S. Military Insights Active Protection Systems Critical to Next Phase of Ground Vehicle Survivability

Over the past decade, the U.S. Army has primarily focused its force protection measures on countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Anti-IED technologies, such a double V-hulls, IED jammers, and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, have proven successful in mitigating the IED threat. Today, however, the focus is shifting to the anti-tank/anti-armor weapons threat – and that means an increased need for Active Protection Systems (APSs).

An APS uses sensors, tracking radar, launchers and countermeasure munitions to defeat and/or deflect anti-tank guided missiles and rocket-propelled grenades away from combat vehicles. APS technology enhances force protection and survivability, especially when combined with a passive armor protection system.

In recent months, U.S. Army leaders have emphasized the need for APS technology. The U.S. Army's Training and Doctrine Command listed "Active Protection" as one of its "Big 8 Initiatives" at the Association of the U.S. Army's (AUSA) Global Force Symposium. Leaders at the Maneuver Center of Excellence's Industry Day highlighted their investment in active protection measures for the Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and other combat/tactical vehicles.

Saab North America agrees that APS technology is essential in protecting and enabling today's U.S. ground forces. The anti-tank/anti-armor weapons threat is growing, and so is the need to deploy an APS system on new and existing ground vehicles.

The Army is seeking to develop its own modular active protection system (MAPS). MAPS will be an open-architecture controller that allows soldiers to a) choose from numerous existing APS systems, or b) choose components from these various systems to achieve the optimum defense for each specific type of vehicle.

Saab has the ability to support the development of MAPS through integration and test support, data analysis for system performance testing, and engineering modifications and advancements. We can also provide system components from our Land Electronic Defense System (LEDS), which combines active signature management with soft-kill and hard-kill mechanisms to provide a full-spectrum APS. The entire LEDS system is inclusive of interfaces for third-party sensors, and individual components can be integrated into on-board architectures. LEDS' primary component, the LEDS-50, is comprised of an active defense controller and several laser warning sensors. LEDS-50 offers 360° azimuth coverage of a platform, and can be configured to offer full hemispherical coverage and an antireflection capability.

The threat landscape is constantly shifting, and today, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps are re-energizing their programs and investment levels to rapidly field an APS. That's a task for which Saab is very capable and qualified to assist.

Lt. Col. Wes Walters, U.S. Army, Ret.
Executive VP of Business Development for Land Domain, Saab North America

This post is part of Saab USA's new U.S. Military Insights blog series, where Saab employees who have served in the U.S. military offer their thoughts on their branch's current landscape.