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Bradley M2A4 to Get Iron Fist Light Decoupled (IF-LD) Active Protection System (APS)


Bradley M2A4 to Get Iron Fist Light Decoupled (IF-LD) Active Protection System (APS)

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U.S. Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams M2A4 Bradley Fighting Vehicle
U.S. Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams M2A4 Bradley Fighting Vehicle

Following a comprehensive overhaul of Elbit Systems’ Iron Fist active protection system for integration onto Bradley M2A4 infantry fighting vehicles, the U.S. Army is poised to equip a full brigade with this enhanced capability. Since the directive in 2016 to outfit the Bradley fleet with APS technology, the Army encountered challenges during earlier characterization testing with the original system and configuration. In 2018, initial testing revealed several areas where the system faced challenges. The system struggled to counter only 50% of incoming threats. Israeli firm Elbit Systems, along with lead integrator General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS), implemented significant modifications to the installation process and the countermeasure solution, resulting in the revamped system now known as Iron Fist Light Decoupled.

Adjustments were made to the mounting and tuning of radars, optical sensors, and other components, along with a reconfiguration of the associated computer hardware cabling. However, the most significant improvement came in the form of software upgrades enhancing threat identification, information processing, and response calculation capabilities. Over the past few years, significant strides have been made to enhance its reliability, as demonstrated in recent testing. After undergoing rigorous testing throughout 2022 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, the system now boasts a 70% success rate in countering threats. Moreover, recent demonstrations in Israel showcased the system’s ability to counter drones while retaining the capability to address threats such as rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided munitions.

Iron Fist Light Decoupled (IF-LD) Active Protection System (APS)
Iron Fist Light Decoupled (IF-LD) Active Protection System (APS). (Photo by GD-OTS)

The M2 Bradley is an American infantry fighting vehicle that is a member of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle family. It is manufactured by BAE Systems Land & Armaments (formerly United Defense).The Bradley is designed for reconnaissance and to transport a squad of infantry, providing them protection from small arms fire, while providing firepower to both suppress and eliminate most threats to friendly infantry. It is designed to be highly maneuverable and to be fast enough to keep up with heavy armor during an advance. The M2 holds a crew of three: a commander, a gunner, and a driver, and can carry six fully equipped soldiers as passengers. In June 2018, BAE Systems Land and Armaments was awarded a contract to produce up to 164 M2A4 and M7A4 Bradley Fighting Vehicles using existing M2A3, M7A3 and M2A2 ODS-SA Bradleys.

Iron Fist (Hetz Dorban) is a hard-kill active protection system (APS) designed by Israel Military Industries (IMI), with a modular design allowing adaptation to a range of platforms ranging from light utility vehicles to heavy armoured fighting vehicles. The concept was revealed by IMI in 2006 and was expected to enter Israel Defense Forces tests by mid-2007. The system has been successfully tested against a wide variety of threats including rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank guided missiles and tank-fired high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) ammunition and kinetic energy penetrators. The U.S. Army intends to field a brigade set in 2025. The contract could equip up to nine US Army brigades with the Iron Fist APS, with priority given to brigades operating in Europe, given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

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