US Army leaves Israeli trophy behind?

SoccerDad informs me of the hard to process news regarding the new superlative Mobile Missile Defense System developed by Rafael Israel..

Globes: US Army rejects Israeli armor protection system
Ran Dagoni, Washington 25 Apr 06 15:22

The rejection comes despite a successful test of Rafael’s Trophy Active Protection System.

The US Army has rejected the Trophy Active Protection System for armored fighting vehicles developed by Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd., despite a successful live fire test on March 30.

The Trophy system was intended for US Army Stryker 8×8 combat vehicles in operations in Iraq, where they are convenient targets for attackers using advanced rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). The live fire test was carried out at the US Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia, on an Israeli Trophy-equipped Stryker flown to the US for the test.

An Israeli defense industry source told “Globes”, “The test was a great success, but the US Army was not convinced. The US Army is locked onto another system being developed by Raytheon (NYSE: RTN), which offers a comprehensive solution to all armored personnel carrier (APC) armor problems. Its only disadvantage is that it will not be ready for production and installation before 2010 or 2011.”

The Trophy system is liable to fall victim to a bureaucratic clash between two US Department of Defense agencies: the Office of Force Transformation (OFT), which is promoting the Trophy system for installation on US Army Strykers; and the US Army high command, which opposes the Israeli system and prefers Raytheon’s solution, even though it is not ready for immediate deployment.

“We were told that the US Army prefers a long-term solution, although it is seeking a solution for immediate problems,” said the Israeli source. “How the Army will cope in the meantime, until Raytheon’s system is ready for production, is another problem.”

The working assumption of agencies in Washington is that Raytheon has no solution for protecting US Army Stykers in the coming months as stipulated in the US Army’s specifications. Disputes within the US Department of Defense has led to leaks to “Defense News”, which wrote in an article praising the Trophy system that opposition within the US Army to the Trophy will have immediate repercussions on combat in Iraq, where the latest top-of-the-line Russian-made RGP 29 rocket launcher is beginning to appear. These RPGs can penetrate the armor of US Army tanks and APCs used in Iraq. [...]

SoccerDad makes the strong case that the clash between senior defense officials and Donald Rumsfeld may have now spilt over to procurement, if that is the case the situation is ugly, with politics on the same scale as force protection.

There are a few other possibilities or combinations of speculative factors that may also be in play:

  • The rift between Israel & The US last year over proposed weapons sales to China not yet fully healed
  • The desire to curb Israel’s runaway weapons export success which has grown by billions recently
  • A move to emphasize and award the contract to a US based company, a contract potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars
  • Heavy pressure by Raytheon, who’s ties to the US defense system run beyond deep, they are below the mantle.

How will this affect the General Dynamics / Rafael relationship? And how will the US Army overcome the disturbing notion of waiting 5 years to protect US forces from deadly RPG attacks when the technology is potentially deploy able today?

And if Soccerdad’s hunch is correct and I personally suspect he is,¬†who will win the battle of wills over the battlefield of the future?

View a promo PR film of the Trophy system in action by the Israeli develoment house 3dGarage

View a Mike Tobin Fox News report on the Trophy system

Hat Tip; Soccerdad