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US Army greenlights soft-kill APS hunt, eyes 2022 contract award

The US Army wants to outfit its ground combat vehicles with a soft-kill active protection system (SK APS) and plans to select a vendor in early 2022.

On 7 December the service issued a SK APS request for information calling for interested vendors to submit paperwork about their respective technologies by 21 December. The army will then host an industry day in January 2021 before issuing a request for prototype proposals in July 2021. If all proceeds smoothly, the army will make a contract award decision in January 2022.

The army Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs (G8) “has recommended approval for the development of a SK APS capability and integration on several ground combat platforms,” the service wrote. It went on to note that the Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems approved the proposed acquisition strategy in late October and will pursue a rapid prototyping pathway under the middle-tier acquisition umbrella.

APSs – both the SK and hard-kill versions – are designed to protect vehicles from inbound rounds such as anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), rocket-propelled grenades, and recoilless rifles.

“A SK APS senses the environment for required threat information and employs a countermeasure (CM) in the form of an obscurant(s) or electronic warfare (EW) devices to interfere with the guidance mechanism(s) or the operator of the susceptible threat(s) thus causing the threat to miss the protected vehicle,” the army wrote.

While the army launches its new SK APS hunt, it has been evaluating the hard-kill options for decades and is now interested in a layered approach.

US Army Sergeant Ansel Frayer, sitting in the gunner’s turret, and his crew manoeuvre their M2A3 Bradley during a live-fire exercise in Bulgaria in August 2018. The army has announced a tentative roadmap for finding a SK APS for its ground combat vehicles.  (US Department of Defense)

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