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Pentagon Politics at the expense of soldier’s lives
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, September 06, 2006

This absolutely inflames me when I see nonsense like this.

First the story. Israel, through Rafael, its armament development authority, has developed a vehicle mounted system which tracks and destroys RPGs (and other anti-tank missiles) before they can strike the vehicle.

RPGs, or rocket propelled grenades, are the scourge of the insurgent fighters. They're cheap, easily obtained shape charges which inflict terrible damage or kill an armored vehicle (and it's crew). As we saw in "Blackhawk down", they can even be used in volley fire to bring down helicopters.

Our soldiers in both Afghanistan and Iraq face RPGs every day. So it would stand to reason that we'd be very interested in any system which could defeat them.

But before I get ahead of myself, here's a description of the Trophy system and then a 2 minute video which demonstrates it:
The Trophy active protection system creates a hemispheric protected zone around the vehicle where incoming threats are intercepted and defeated. It has three elements providing – Threat Detection and Tracking, Launching and Intercept functions. The Threat Detection and Warning subsystem consists of several sensors, including flat-panel radars, placed at strategic locations around the protected vehicle, to provide full hemispherical coverage. Once an incoming threat is detected identified and verified, the Countermeasure Assembly is opened, the countermeasure device is positioned in the direction where it can effectively intercept the threat. Then, it is launched automatically into a ballistic trajectory to intercept the incoming threat at a relatively long distance.

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So, you ask, have we looked at it?

Yes, we have. From the cited "Defense Update" article updated on 5/25/06:
On March 30, 2006 General Dynamics announced the successful completion of a firing test, conducted at the request of the Office of the Secretary of Defense's Office of Force Transformation (OFT), to validate the Israeli Army's tests that demonstrated Trophy's ability to detect, track and destroy incoming rocket propelled grenades (RPG) at safe distances from the host vehicle. Trophy underwent this U.S. validation testing in support of OFT's Project Sheriff, or the Full-Spectrum Effects Platform (FSEP). FSEP program officials seek to meet urgent operational requirements for a range of lethal and non-lethal technologies on a rapidly deployable platform. Trophy was selected in 2005 to be FSEP's active protection solution. During the test, Trophy detected, tracked and defeated an inert incoming RPG while the Stryker combat vehicle was on the move. Similar tests were successfully conducted in Israel in late February.
All of those highlighted sections seem to indicate the successful completion of validation testing and selection of the system as the one to meet "urgent operational requirements" as I pointed out above in Afghanistan and Iraq. The validation tests were almost perfect:
An official involved with those tests told NBC that Trophy “worked in every case. The only anomaly was that in one test, the Trophy round hit the RPG’s tail instead of its head. But according to our test criteria, the system was 30 for 30.”
It sounds like a winner and certainly something which could be fielded fairly quickly in both theaters of war, right?

Wrong.

Enter Pentagon politics, defense contractor manipulation, rank stupidity and "if it wasn't made here it's no good" thinking:
That plan immediately ran into a roadblock: Strong opposition from the U.S. Army. Why? Pentagon sources tell NBC News that the Army brass considers the Israeli system a threat to an Army program to develop an RPG defense system from scratch.

The $70 million contract for that program had been awarded to an Army favorite, Raytheon. Raytheon’s contract constitutes a small but important part of the Army’s massive modernization program called the Future Combat System (FCS), which has been under fire in Congress on account of ballooning costs and what critics say are unorthodox procurement practices.

Col. Donald Kotchman, who heads the Army’s program to develop an RPG defense, acknowledges that Raytheon’s system won’t be ready for fielding until 2011 at the earliest.
Now if true (and I say that purposely, since this is the first and only report I've seen on the subject) this is freakin' inexcusable. You have a system which is available now, validated at 100% and addresses a very serious threat to which your troops are exposed every day, and you opt to reject it in favor of making your own from scratch?

How foolish, stupid, assinine, dumb (put your own favorite descriptive adjective here) can a decision be?
As one senior official put it, “We don’t really have a problem if the Army thinks it has a long-term solution with Raytheon. But what are our troops in the field supposed to do for the next five or six years?”
Exactly. Hello?!!

The official excuse for not using Trophy?
Kotchman, however, says the Army is doing everything prudent to provide for the protection and safety of U.S. forces and insists the Israeli system is not ready to be deployed by the U.S. “Trophy has not demonstrated its capability to be successfully integrated into a system and continue to perform its wartime mission,” he says.
As compared to what, a system which won't even be available for testing until 2011? I'd love to see COL Kotchman answer the question posed earlier, "what are our troops in the field supposed to do for the next five or six years?

If you haven't already figured it out yet, this pisses me off about as much as anything I come across. If true, this is pure and unadulterated nonsense which should be condemened and those who are blocking the procurement of the system fired, terminated, and sent packing. This is politics pure and simple and it is politics that will cost lives.
“There are some in the Army who would be extremely concerned that if the Trophy system worked, then the Army would have no need to go forward with the Raytheon system and the program might be terminated,” says Steven Schooner, who teaches procurement law at both George Washington University and the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s School.

Trophy’s supporters inside the Pentagon are more blunt. As one senior official told NBC News, “This debate has nothing, zero, to do with capability or timeliness. It’s about money and politics. You’ve got a gigantic program [FCS] and contractors with intertwined interests. Trophy was one of the most successful systems we’ve tested, and yet the Army has ensured that it won’t be part of FCS and is now trying to prevent it from being included on the Strykers” that OFT planned to send to Iraq.
So where is Trophy now?
The Pentagon is now trying to interest the Marine Corps in testing Trophy. But because of Army opposition, there are currently no plans to send the system to Iraq.
Inexcusable. Just inexcusable.

You want to change the military? This is where you start.

Fire them all.
 
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It’s the "not made here" syndrome, Pentagon-style. I can’t say I’m all that surprised. Why use what has already been shown to work when you’ve got $70 million to blow on your defense contractor buddies? It might get you a better tee time at the country club!
those who are blocking the procurement of the system fired, terminated, and sent packing.
I’d go a step further: if another soldier dies from an enemy RPG, the brass responsible for blocking the Trophy procurement should be charged with criminally negligent homicide. Of course, I’m not holding my breath until that happens. . . .
 
Written By: Brian Martinez
URL: http://cluebyfour.livejournal.com
If we were producing defense the way that we produce, say, automobiles, this would not be an issue.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I agree with your assessment 99%, McQ. I have a 1% reservation because I’m not sure about a couple of things:

(1). How easy is the Trophy system to implement into vehicles in theater?

(2). What kind of training is involved and how long does it take to be come proficient?

(3). What happens if it breaks? Who’s going to fix it? Are we going to have Israeli technicians flown into Iraq?

(4). What are the incidences of categorical error (i.e. mistaking birds, or even people for RPG’s), and what are the safe distances from the "kill zone"? Specifically, can Trophy be used in close quarters combat (e.g., combing a hostile city block) and what sorts of collateral damage will the system potentially create?

(5). How scalable is the system?

These were just a few of the questions that came immediately to my mind. I’m sure that some are already answered and/or irrelevant, but I can at least see an argument as to why adopting Trophy now may not be the best idea.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
If we were producing defense the way that we produce, say, automobiles, this would not be an issue.
What do you mean, Billy? That instead of the most sophisticated, technologically advanced (with one possible exception), professional soldiers we would instead have a bloated welfare system producing a crappy product subject to yearly recalls, therefore forcing us to rely on Japan and Germany for defense needs?

God help us all.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
(1). How easy is the Trophy system to implement into vehicles in theater?

(2). What kind of training is involved and how long does it take to be come proficient?

(3). What happens if it breaks? Who’s going to fix it? Are we going to have Israeli technicians flown into Iraq?

(4). What are the incidences of categorical error (i.e. mistaking birds, or even people for RPG’s), and what are the safe distances from the "kill zone"? Specifically, can Trophy be used in close quarters combat (e.g., combing a hostile city block) and what sorts of collateral damage will the system potentially create?

(5). How scalable is the system?
All good questions, all questions which would be answered fairly easily prior to implementation. There may be modifications that need to be made, certainly, but at least they’d be made on an existing system.

Those same questions also pertain to a system that won’t even be tested until 2011.

BTW, I don’t know if you watched the video but they answer some of your questions. The maintenance question I can answer. We’d decide on a level of maintenance and then train our techs (or have the Israelis train them) to repair the system.

As for urban environment and collateral damage:
Trophy was designed to effectively operate in a dense urban environment, where armored vehicles operate closely with integrated infantry forces. Therefore, direction, formation and energy of the fragments are Merkava 3 with prototype Trophy APS System demonstrated at LIC 2005 designed to ensure effective target kill with low collateral damage, and low risk to nearby troops.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Further to MichaelW’s questions, there is also the possibility that this information is coming from people who are trying to shape the information space in the Pentagon to get Trophy approved when there are other problems with it, conveniently not mentioned in the article you quote. It’s not like that kind of playing politics doesn’t happen. How are we to evaluate the information in light of that possibility?

Also, I seem to recall seeing early articles on this that indicated that it was of questionable utility in urban environments, because it would "false positive" on flashes of light (heat) from windows, or other point sources, and would deplete its munitions against non-threats (with potential collateral damage); and that it was problematic when infantry are in close support, because the munition is dangerous to people near both the tank and the RPG that is hit. Those happen to be the characteristics where most RPG hits are occurring in Iraq: urban fighting with infantry/armor mixed teams.

It may be that this is a good system, inexcusably withheld from the troops for political reasons; or that it is a good system, withheld for good reasons; or that it is not a good system. I don’t know that we have the information to determine that with any expectation of finality.

And I just have to wonder, between this "fire them all" and the Waziristan "sit back and wait" posts, what are your criteria for choosing between immediate spasmodic action and placid acceptance?
 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
I watched the video, but I have no sound on my work CPU.
Those same questions also pertain to a system that won’t even be tested until 2011.
Well, "yes" and "no." Depending on how long it would take to implement, etc.,
the Trophy system, it may be that Raytheon would provide something even better (i.e., developed specifically for the Army) within about the same timeframe. To be clear, I’m suggesting that there’s about a 1% chance in mind that this is a likely scenario.

Other than that, "off with their heads!"
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I am guardedly with McQ on this, I know how important MY opinion is on this matter (*LOL*). More than likely Trophy would be better than nothing, and right now the options are NOTHING or Trophy. Though to be fair I doubt Rafael’s video is going to discuss the short-comings of Trophy, "Really great, UNLESS the round is coming from the 30-degree in front, then it’s USELESS!" I really doubt that would make it into the promo.

There IS a solution, and McQ and Rafael can certainly benefit from it. Sell the rights to Raytheon. The US Army doesn’t suffer from "Not Invented Here Syndrome" too much any more folks... pistol-Beretta, M-249-Belgian, M-240-Belgian, M-320 40mm GL-H&K German, XM-8-German G-36, 81mm mortar-United Kingdom, 120mm mortar-Israel, AT-4-Sweden, M-3 RAAWS-Sweden, SMAW-Israel, M-777 155mm howitzer-United Kingdom, UH-145-EADS Europe. The US Army has NO problem buying foreign, the material simply has to be MANUFACTURED here.

Rafael just needs to sell Raytheon the rights to produce Trophy, or ATK the rights, or United Defense, PLUS hire a lobbyist to lobby Sen. Byrd, and the other Senators representing United, ATK, or Raytheon...once they are in the act, the Defense Budget incorporates Trophy and some company makes money fielding it.

But Trophy will NOT win, unless it plays the game. And I might add, McQ is helping Rafael play that game...by building a viral marketing campaign designed to produce some kind of grass roots support for their system. Rafael is not stupid, this simply helps them in their campaign to market their product.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Before you get all worked up at the Army, I’d suggest that there are other players involved. I recall my father’s lament that he was forced to use Ohio coal to fire the US power plants in Germany even though native coal was cheaper, cleaner, and more available. Seems some member of Congress - from Ohio, naturally - earmarked the appropriation bill accordingly.

Not that that diminishes the incestuous relationships between defense contractors and procurement officers - merely another avenue for corruption.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
And I just have to wonder, between this "fire them all" and the Waziristan "sit back and wait" posts, what are your criteria for choosing between immediate spasmodic action and placid acceptance?
Trophy: seems to work, would save lives, 30 for 30 in validation testing, exits now.

Waziristan: Never worked. Isn’t working now. Try something new.

Does that explain it for you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Also, I seem to recall seeing early articles on this that indicated that it was of questionable utility in urban environments, because it would "false positive" on flashes of light (heat) from windows, or other point sources, and would deplete its munitions against non-threats (with potential collateral damage); and that it was problematic when infantry are in close support, because the munition is dangerous to people near both the tank and the RPG that is hit.
Did you guys even watch the video or read the cite?
Once an incoming threat is detected identified and verified, the Countermeasure Assembly is opened, the countermeasure device is positioned in the direction where it can effectively intercept the threat. Then, it is launched automatically into a ballistic trajectory to intercept the incoming threat at a relatively long distance.
Flash? Heat? Not unless both can be tracked and verified with an intercept course.

Collateral damage? Urban environment?
Trophy was designed to effectively operate in a dense urban environment, where armored vehicles operate closely with integrated infantry forces. Therefore, direction, formation and energy of the fragments are Merkava 3 with prototype Trophy APS System demonstrated at LIC 2005 designed to ensure effective target kill with low collateral damage, and low risk to nearby troops.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The DOD and its predecessor the War Dept. have been riddled with graft and corruption for over 140 years. As a nam Vet I can relate directly to this as the M16 riffles we got late in 1967 were next to useless. By 1968 most guys in my squad were armed with AK47’s they took of dead ChiComs. An example of the poor performance of the M16 - 15 seconds into a firefight you could count on 33% being jamed! The scuttlebut was the contracter was a friend of Bobby Mac. another example from the Nam War was a sea tale told me my Jarheads from the old Corps. They were sent to Nam in 1963 with wool (Winter) utilities! Procurement has always been a problem in DOD! Get rid of one set of crooks and another pops up somewhere else.
It is a fight that must be fought but it is never ending. I hope your blog gets some folks fired but new crooks will unfortuneately take their place.
 
Written By: Rodney A Stanton
URL: http://
The scuttlebut was the contracter was a friend of Bobby Mac.

If you READ about the M-16 a somewhat different, though nonetheless D@mning story emerges. The AR-15 was a wonder, never jammed. The M-16 had problems in that the M-193 Ball ammo was a DIFFERENT propellant than the AR-15 ammo had been designed around. It tended to deposit carbon in the chamber and lead to jamming. The m-193 Ball was accepted because there was a SOLE SOURCE CONTRACT for M-16 ammo, it was more "efficient". The Army compounded the problem by announcing that the weapon was self-cleaning and failed to provide adequate lubricant and cleaning equipment. Usually it’s not simply graft, alone, but stupidity as well.

Procurement has been a problem for the US Military... it actually is much better, today by all accounts. COTS and the Internet, plus SOCOM, have revolutionized procurement. "MiLStandard" is becoming a smaller proportion of procurement, simply because MilStand takes so long to produce anything and the troops simply order off the Internet, or use Unit Funds to purchase material.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Before everybody gets their panties up in a wad.

The system is nowhere near ready for deployment. It would be at least 2 years before production could even begin. Even Israel is only "in full scale engineering phase for inclusion on Merkava Mk. 4 tanks and the future light armored vehicle (Stryker)."

And every thing that has been "successfully tested" always works, doesn’t it. And NBC always give us correct information, don’t they.

http://www.defense-update.com/products/t/trophy.htm#news

I think there is far more here to be skeptical of than many are willing to admit to.
 
Written By: Jay Evans
URL: http://
Jay: that’s the article I’ve cited in the post.
It would be at least 2 years before production could even begin
That’s not what it says.
GD plans to introduce the system with every new and existing combat vehicle it produces, including Stryker, M-1A2 and FCS. According to GD officials, the system can be adapted to US requirements and enter production within two years.
As I read it, it would be that adaptation to US requirements (whatever they may be) which could take two years, but otherwise, GD is planning on producing it. Not all Strykers, FCS and M-1 goes to the US.

The point is, it is a system which exists and can be adapted. The Raytheon system doesn’t exist and won’t for at least 5 years. Seems a no-brainer to me.
And every thing that has been "successfully tested" always works, doesn’t it.
So that’s a reason not to pursue something which seems to work just fine and aced our validation tests?
And NBC always give us correct information, don’t they.
Skepticism is healthy and fine when appropriate. But to this point there doesn’t seem to be any outcry saying what NBC is telling us isn’t true.

Unfortunately it’s an all too typical Pentagon story. The difference between now and 10 years ago, say, is that we have people on the ground who would benefit from this system and, according to the story, we’ve decided we’d rather build our own.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well, McQ I have read the Defense Update article and I am a little LESS grumpy, than you. GENERAL DYNAMICS is examing the system. They are marketing the system in the US...I guess my point is that the system IS working. A foreign system is under consideration, to be built by US WORKERS. Now the Lobbying begins. GD and Rafael drumming up support for the system and Raytheon defending it’s turf. If GD wants to win, find a way to bring Raytheon in, either as a Pre-Planned Product Improvment Program provider, Trophy v.2.0 or as an alternative source producer....

I will be honest SOMETHING is usually better than nothing, but a slick video isn’t really the level of proof I’d desire. I realize that that’s ALL we, as civilians, are going to get, but I remain somewhat skeptical of the Trophy claims.

As I said, never seen a defense or car brochure that said, "This product is very good, BUT it has these defects...." I’m just wondering what the real world defects of Trophy are?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The Trophy system does seem to show promise. However, by GD own admission there is a problem with its ability to hit pure ballistic ordinance. Although, it appears to be very effective on rocket base projectiles. Additionally, anyone familiar with the Russian based TRAP system will also note that Trophy’s methods of projectile destruction are far safer for close-cover ground troops that competing technologies. Despite the fact that I am certain there is a level of undue influence on the Pentagon by Raytheon, I think that Pentagon might be waiting for something better and to implement it LATER. I simply think that implementing the Trophy system is COST PROHIBITIVE in the short term. I assume that in the minds of many at the Pentagon RPG’s are a moderate threat despite the casualties in Iraq and Afganistan. These systems would need to be installed on LIGHT weight armored vehicles (humvee) to prevent the many of RPG casualties. Trophy might only be practical on Tanks and APCs. Perhaps Raytheon is producing a more versatile system for a wider array of vehicles with their contract?
 
Written By: Sonny C
URL: http://
As I said, never seen a defense or car brochure that said, "This product is very good, BUT it has these defects...." I’m just wondering what the real world defects of Trophy are?
We’ll never know if we don’t take a closer look at it will we? Right now, it’s 30 for 30 in validation tests we designed. Does that warrant a closer look rather than an outright dismissal? I’d say so.

And especially with troops in the field - we owe it to them to look at something in 2006 (even if it won’t be ready until 2008) v. something which is essentially vapor-ware scheduled for testing in 2011, wouldn’t you say (name a single new weapons system lately which has been delivered on time)?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The Trophy system does seem to show promise. However, by GD own admission there is a problem with its ability to hit pure ballistic ordinance. Although, it appears to be very effective on rocket base projectiles.
Right ... and at the moment we’re very short of enemies who can put ballistic anti-tank rounds down range at us. But we’re up to our ears in RPGs.

So it seems the RPG solution is a nice short-term fix for a problem we’re suffering now and we have the time to help develop the ballistic side of the weapon.
Despite the fact that I am certain there is a level of undue influence on the Pentagon by Raytheon, I think that Pentagon might be waiting for something better and to implement it LATER.
Why? Unless you see a force on force battle looming where ballistic projectiles are going to be flying it would seem prudent to address what we are facing as soon as possible. That would be rocket based projectiles.

I mean if we had waitend until we had something better before we fielded the M1, there’d be no reason for an "A1" would there?
I simply think that implementing the Trophy system is COST PROHIBITIVE in the short term. I assume that in the minds of many at the Pentagon RPG’s are a moderate threat despite the casualties in Iraq and Afganistan. These systems would need to be installed on LIGHT weight armored vehicles (humvee) to prevent the many of RPG casualties.
That may be, but the technology is there and functioning. Adaptation is part of the process. Why eschew it to start from scratch when a functioning system exists?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Ah, but SonnyC it’s not just an anti-RPG weapon... it’s a chemical energy round protector. TRAP, as I have seen it referred to, is a counter-measure for RPG’s, AND Anti-Tank Guided Missiles...low velocity rounds. So it will work against RPG-7’s and AT-3’s to AT-16’s... those are a significant threat to all armoured fighting vehicles.

Follow-on work will focus, per article, on Kinetic Energy Weapons... long-rod penetrators and the like.

McQ call your Senator/Congress human, raise a fuss...I just see that there is as much a likelihood that we are "just negotiating the price" as we are killing a good program. General Dynamics is on the scene for TRAP, it’s not this "Bob the Garage Engineer" or "Mr Smith takes his anti-anti-tank weapon to Washington."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
It’s relatively cheap too. This election cycle Ratheon’s PAC donated just $760,718. (42% to Democrats, 58% to Republicans) To protect a $70 millon contract, it’s cheap at the price: 1% of the benfit and a few soldiers lives.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
I just see that there is as much a likelihood that we are "just negotiating the price" as we are killing a good program.
We’re not killing anything Joe. We’re just saying we’re not going to use it. GD will sell the system. We aren’t the only folks plagued by RPGs and the like.

Nope, I’ve seen the Pentagon’s system at work way to long to write this off as something as simple as "price negotiation".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
It’s relatively cheap too. This election cycle Ratheon’s PAC donated just $760,718. (42% to Democrats, 58% to Republicans) To protect a $70 millon contract
I’d be surprised if Raytheon only had a single 70 million dollar project in the works.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Re: Collateral damage, ineffectiveness in certain situations, premature munitions depletion, etc.

So put in an off switch. Trust your soldiers to know when to use the system. They’re on the ground, under threat. I’m sure they’ve got some pretty strict criteria of their own - such as not getting themselves or their buddies a$$es blown off. I trust that much more than I trust any staged validation procedure.

If our guys are given this system, they can choose whether or not to use it. Failing to give them that choice is inexcusable.
 
Written By: Gil
URL: http://
Well, not surprisingly I don’t fully agree with McQ. Raytheon SAYS they don’t want it, or the Army does...That’s what they SAY, however General Dynamics is also a powerhouse in Defense procurement, so I’m not so sure that the program is dead in the US or if indeed we simply aren’t "negotiating the price." Of course I can only advance a supposition, but it is a decent, EXTANT system and being marketed in the US by Defense Powerhouse, General Dynamics. I’m fairly sanguine that TRAP will get a hearing within Congress and Defense bureaucracy.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
And I might add that it’s no wonder that the USMC has declined to purchase. They have NO money. IF the Army buys the system they will be able to leverage off the Army infrastructure and volume buy to more easily procure the system.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I think that we all ought to take a deep breath and sit down.

There are countless military systems that looked good on paper, looked good in pre-production tests, and were not worth crap in actual use and killed people.

Even though we are talking people’s lives there also is a cost-benefit analysis to be done. Maybe Trophy works, but putting the money into more reconnaissance drones would work better overall. Maybe Trophy works, but putting the weight and cost into passive defense would work better.

Maybe Trophy works in battle conditions but has an unacceptable safety risk in non-combat situations (which is 99.99999% of the time).f I were the Navy or Air Force I would be damn nervous of a cocked and loaded weapon on board with a lot of others similarly cocked and loaded no matter how sure you were that it was "switched off".


The US Army also has very different requirements that the IDF. The IDF fights one place — Israel and its vicinity. The Army has to transport everything to where it fights and it has to be able to fight on every continent. Does Trophy work at -40F?


It just ain’t as simple as "looks good in the video why are we callously not buying it?".

That said the military ought to look hard at its requirements for the system to be developed and figure out whether those can be trimmed to meet a system more nearly ready.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
It just ain’t as simple as "looks good in the video why are we callously not buying it?".
And no one is suggesting that. The question is very clear. Why do we prefer to build one from scratch which we can’t even field for 5 years and have no idea if it will work when the technology to defeat rocket propelled anti-tank rounds appears to exist?

I noticed you didn’t get near that question.
The US Army also has very different requirements that the IDF. The IDF fights one place — Israel and its vicinity. The Army has to transport everything to where it fights and it has to be able to fight on every continent. Does Trophy work at -40F?
Don’t know. But right now we’re not fighting in -40F are we? Maybe the A1 will take care of that. Or the A2.

Oh and the IDF fights in open terrain and urban terrain, just like we do. Believe or not that looks very similar all across the world. In fact, if you look closely, it’s rather hard to tell the difference, terrain wise from Israel, Lebanon and Iraq, isn’t it?

So again, why isn’t it a good idea to take what exists and build on it and adapt it when it passes our validation tests prefectly?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
John, I think that you are on the right track because we don’t have the whole story. Yes the Trophy system looks great in the video and the little bit of data about it. Currently it isn’t deployed even in Israel and it requires a number of sensors to be deployed in "strategic" locations around the vehicle to give a "hemisphere" of protection. This sounds like a possible weakness because small arms fire could 1st take out the sensor and then follow up with the RPG.

I looked around and found more info on the Raytheon solution. It appears that it works from one central location and might be less vulnerable than Trophy. Time will tell which is better...

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/002230.html
 
Written By: Fran
URL: http://
Time will tell which is better...
Well except for one small problem:
Col. Donald Kotchman, who heads the Army’s program to develop an RPG defense, acknowledges that Raytheon’s system won’t be ready for fielding until 2011 at the earliest.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I couldn’t see the whole video(no dsl yet). does this thing use a radar? It sounds like it. If so, does it interfere with anything, including other Trophy sensors or is it jammable? It would be embarrassing if someone came up with a little radio shack doodad that could set off every Trophy within a city block or so. Has it undergone the standard and somewhat lengthy environmental testing(vibration, shock, water, stupid soldiers, etc.)? Most unfortunate if it turns out that exposure to field/combat conditions for 3 months causes microscopic cracks in the circuit boards that cause it to fire at random, or not respond at all. Not to mention the fact that some environmental group will say that the radiation from it causes hemorrhoids or something. And I certainly would not want to see a bunch of soldiers filing disability claims for hemorrhoids incurred in the line of duty.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Maybe Trophy works in battle conditions but has an unacceptable safety risk in non-combat situations (which is 99.99999% of the time).f I were the Navy or Air Force I would be damn nervous of a cocked and loaded weapon on board with a lot of others similarly cocked and loaded no matter how sure you were that it was "switched off".
A) If the Navy or Air Force are made nervous by cocked and loaded weapons, their training has failed to create soldiers. Cocked and loaded weapons are what they do, and knowing how to use them without getting killed is what makes them military rather than militia. Regardless, it is to be hoped that a vehicle fitted with this system will be relatively free of RPG fire during transport.

B) 99.9999% of the time, you turn the system off (see below).

C) "switched off" doesn’t need quotes if YOU USE AN ACTUAL SWITCH. Not fancy computer-modern sleep-mode mostly power-off states. A switch. Possibly one with a lock fitted for a key only the vehicle commander carries. Two strips of metal with one strip of metal that slides into a conductive position (on) or nonconductive (off) position, insulated with nonconductive material for safety of use, and placed in-line between the power supply and the circuit board.

D) Your point about strategically placed sensors is well made. We’ll specify eliminating that ’feature’ in the next revision, along with all the other feedback we get from soldiers who survived RPG attacks to give recommendations from the field. Versus the ones who died in vehicles without this system, who tend to be less helpful in the development cycle.
 
Written By: Gil
URL: http://
Perhaps I’m missing the point. More likely McQ is missing the point. Even if GD could deploy Trophy in COTS fashion, where the Army could buy ready-to-install kits, it is only capable of being deployed to ARMORED vehicles (i.e. tanks, strykers, and other APCs), not Humvees. Humvees, not being armored, are most vulnerable to RPG assault. And guess what? You can’t deploy the Trophy system to them. Splendid. Meanwhile, the armored vehicles can be outfitted far more cheaply with passive countermeasures to defeat RPGs than Trophy. I’m not really sure what all this wailing and gnashing of teeth about the defense contractors accomplishes. I’m sure Lisa Myers delivered the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in her sound byte laden edited-for-television report. Oh, by the way, GD just got the Army contract to update the armor on the Stryker vehicles to improve survivability against RPG attack.

If you want to moan about political skullduggery, why not focus your fury on actual boondoggles that go on, like politicians keeping bases in their home districts open that were recommended for closure by the pentagon, or keeping alive weapons systems the military doesn’t even want.
 
Written By: Fran
URL: http://
" If the Navy or Air Force are made nervous by cocked and loaded weapons, their training has failed to create soldiers."

Having seen a few accidents with cocked and loaded weapons by trained soldiers, it is my opinion that anyone who is not nervous around cocked and loaded weapons is a moron. Maybe it is different in the other services.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I should add, I have seen accidents with weapons that were not cocked and loaded also. Or so they thought.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Where the Army could buy ready-to-install kits, it is only capable of being deployed to ARMORED vehicles (i.e. tanks, strykers, and other APCs), not Humvees.
One of the things I write up every week is a Project Hero post. While reviewing many, many, many write ups about action in which medals for valor are awarded armored vehicles are prominently mentioned.

Bradleys. Strykers.

Also mentioned are "disabled" and "destroyed" ususally right after RPGs are mentioned.

So armored vehicles is a good start. That will protect some of the force. Then adapt. See what can be done to put them on Humvees. But the fact that it isn’t a total solution shouldn’t stop us from having a partial solution while we work on the rest, is it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
As an Army acquisition officer, and a little familiar with why the Raytheon solution was selected over other solutions, to my recollection there were at least five or six other competitors, I provide some things that MAY have been selection criteria:

1) Integration capability on current and future platforms (size, weight and power requirements, including ability to integrate with current and future vetronics).
2) Ability of the solution to enhance capabilities i.e. will the solution defeat RPGs and long-rod penatrators (tank rounds). If solution has no growth capability can we afford to purchase two systems and will the platforms be able to handle two systems?
3) Fratricide – the defeat mechanism on many of the solutions could have had a very large blast danger area that caused fragmentation, placing U.S. dismounts at a greater risk.
4) Does the company selected have a positive background in the technology (radars, rockets, missiles)?
5) Cost over the life-cycle of the solution

Those are just some examples of criteria that might have been considered to select the Raytheon solution. My rub is that the media can put a negative spin on just about anything, and they have achieved the intended response, just read the above feedback. The acquisition corps strives to select the best, most cost effective, and requirements complete solution.
 
Written By: Kevin L
URL: http://
US Army Defends Decision Not To Buy General Dynamics System

By Rebecca Christie
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES


WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)—The U.S. Army on Wednesday defended its decision not to buy a General Dynamics Corp. (GD) system that defends tanks against rocket-propelled grenades by shooting back.

The Army has faced periodic criticism this year for its decision not to buy the Trophy defense system and rush it to Iraq. General Dynamics makes Trophy in partnership with Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd., which is backed by Israel’s defense ministry.

Army officials say tests haven’t proven a need for the system. But the service continues to face criticism that it is overlooking a potentially life-saving technology.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, wrote Army Secretary Francis Harvey on Wednesday to ask why the system isn’t in use, after Trophy made the NBC News.
Maine is
home to two General Dynamics sites: a shipyard in Bath and a .50 caliber machine gun factory in Saco.

But the Army insists the system isn’t a good fit. When asked about the system Wednesday, Army spokesman Lt. Col. William Wiggins said the service already has measures in place to protect combat vehicles from RPG attacks. He said Defense Department tests of the Trophy system didn’t warrant a rush to send it to Iraq.

"The Army will take all prudent measures possible to protect its soldiers,"
Wiggins said. The tests "did not provide the kind of results that would say we’ve got to revamp our whole testing apparatus or infrastructure."

Right now, the Army is using slat armor to defend its combat vehicles from RPG hits. This armor is essentially a cage that absorbs a blast several feet away from troops inside.

In contrast, Trophy is an "active protection" system that shoots back at incoming grenades so they will explode at a distance. Raytheon Co. (RTN) is building a similar system, which beat out Trophy for a role in the Army’s $165 billion Future Combat Systems modernization program.

These types of systems have been shown to work in tests. But the Army has not yet figured out how it will use them.

For instance, the new systems raise big questions about collateral damage if the system misfired, or created a deadlier explosion than the RPG would have caused on its own. Also, the Army will need to design a supply chain and maintenance plan by the time Future Combat Systems reaches soldiers in the 2010s.

In April, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told reporters that the system needs to show "stability" before it is ready for the field. He said the Army isn’t against it, but also isn’t in a rush.

"How do we know this is the solution? Because the manufacturer says it is?"
Schoomaker said, when asked about Trophy at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.
"What we do want to do is make sure that what we put our precious dollars against work."

General Dynamics referred questions on the system to the Army.
 
Written By: Paul
URL: http://
Answer, the styem (trophy) would require a fairly extensive rework of the vehicle, training in its use is mimimal.
 
Written By: Richard
URL: http://
Answer, the styem (trophy) would require a fairly extensive rework of the vehicle, training in its use is mimimal.
As compared to a system which won’t be ready to test until 2011.

Seems like they need to get to work on Trophy.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"Technology developed in S&T or procured from industry or other sources shall have been demonstrated in a relevant environment or, preferably, in an operational environment to be considered mature enough to use for product development in systems integration...If technology is not mature, the DoD Component shall use alternative technology that is mature and that can meet the user’s needs" (DoDI 5000.2, paragraph 3.7.2.2).
 
Written By: moondog
URL: http://
"Technology developed in S&T or procured from industry or other sources shall have been demonstrated in a relevant environment or, preferably, in an operational environment to be considered mature enough to use for product development in systems integration...If technology is not mature, the DoD Component shall use alternative technology that is mature and that can meet the user’s needs" (DoDI 5000.2, paragraph 3.7.2.2).
And that mature technology would be?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
That technology would be the Trophy system. The GAO/NSIAD-99-162 Best Practices Appendix I lists the technology readiness levels and their descriptions. After watching the Trophy video it seems to be around TRL 7, as opposed to the Raytheon system which looked like it was tested on a brick or metal wall in very controlled conditions.
 
Written By: moondog
URL: http://
That technology would be the Trophy system.
Then we agree ... it just wasn’t clear to me in your initial comment.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
See the following story for a little more ground truth...Especially interesting is the quote about the recent Lebanon campaign.


http://www.upi.com/SecurityTerrorism/view.php?StoryID=20060908-032313-9324r
US Army: Israeli RPG defense not ready
WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 (UPI) — A top Army general Friday disputed a news report asserting the Army was refusing to buy an Israeli weapon system that could protect U.S. troops in Iraq.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson said the Israeli Trophy system, designed to shoot down rocket-propelled grenades, is not yet built and cannot be purchased "off-the-shelf" for quick integration into tanks, fighting vehicles and Humvees in Iraq.
"If this was ready to go why wasn’t it on the (Israeli) tanks that went into Lebanon?" Sorenson told reporters Friday. "We do not want to put something out there that gives soldiers a false sense of security."
He also said even when it is available, its design carries with it significant risk of collateral damage to U.S. troops and civilians outside the vehicle. The Israeli system can intercept incoming RPGs, but not without spraying shrapnel on dismounted troops and the Iraqi civilians who would likely be nearby in the tight urban environment in Iraq.
He also said Trophy, built by Rafael, does not provide 360-degree coverage for the vehicle; each system is designed to intercept a lateral threat. Full coverage would require multiple Trophy systems on all sides of a vehicle. RPGs that hit on top of a vehicle would still not be intercepted.
NBC News reported Sept. 5 that the Army is shunning the system in favor of an American-developed anti-RPG system by Raytheon, which will not be tested until at least 2010.
The earliest Trophy is expected is 2007 or 2008, Sorenson said.
The Raytheon Active-Protection System, being developed for the Future Combat System, will have 360-degree coverage and will automatically reload.
Sorenson said of the 1,4000 U.S. soldiers lost in Iraq, 63 have been killed by an RPG alone, and just 10 of them were killed as a result of a rocket impact on a combat vehicle. The number is low for two reasons. The preferred method of attack on U.S. forces remains roadside bombs or improvised explosive devices, and the layers of passive and reactive armor applied to the outside of combat vehicles largely protect the troops inside.
 
Written By: Himyom
URL: http://
The preferred method of attack on U.S. forces remains roadside bombs or improvised explosive devices, and the layers of passive and reactive armor applied to the outside of combat vehicles largely protect the troops inside.
Which essentially means the RPG 7VR or 29s haven’t made it to Iraq yet.

Or have they?
Shortly before dawn on Aug. 28, an M1A1 Abrams tank on routine patrol in Baghdad “was hit by something” that crippled the 69-ton behemoth.

Army officials still are puzzling over what that “something” was.

According to an unclassified Army report, the mystery projectile punched through the vehicle’s skirt and drilled a pencil-sized hole through the hull. The hole was so small that “my little finger will not go into it,” the report’s author noted.

The “something” continued into the crew compartment, where it passed through the gunner’s seatback, grazed the kidney area of the gunner’s flak jacket and finally came to rest after boring a hole 1½ to 2 inches deep in the hull on the far side of the tank.

As it passed through the interior, it hit enough critical components to knock the tank out of action. That made the tank one of only two Abrams disabled by enemy fire during the Iraq war and one of only a handful of “mobility kills” since they first rumbled onto the scene 20 years ago. The other Abrams knocked out this year in Iraq was hit by an RPG-7, a rocket-propelled grenade.

Experts believe whatever it is that knocked out the tank in August was not an RPG-7 but most likely something new — and that worries tank drivers.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Gentlemen: Read the paper before you comment. I will take the time to rebut only one comment: that the TROPHY SYTEM only protects in one plane and would requre several systems to protect all around the vehicle and then would still not protect from RPG coming from above. Quote from description of the Trophy System: "The Trophy System is a Hemi-speric system" Hemisphere= 1/2 of a sphere = protection in every direction including UP from a single weapon system on one vehicle. End of Statement.
 
Written By: Bruce McLean
URL: http://
The system may indeed provide hemispheric defense, but I think it may need more than one launcher (or whatever they call it) as it would be difficult to have one launcher with an adequate field of fire.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
The system may indeed provide hemispheric defense, but I think it may need more than one launcher (or whatever they call it) as it would be difficult to have one launcher with an adequate field of fire.
If you study the various armored vehicles displayed in the Trophy material you’ll see multiple launchers placed on them.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Wow, so much semi-truth information it’s hard to disgest. So which one of you were firing RPGs at Strykers in Isreal and which person installed the equipment? There were only 2 (two) US citizens to watch the 30 for 30 success rate. FYI: You may not like foreign companies but they were inside of the vehicle when Trophy was tested. They General Dynamics/Rafael partnership is good for our folds on the ground. For FCS (future combat systems), buy the best again. Our protectors deserve it.
 
Written By: ComputerGeek
URL: http://
Ok, listen, all I am going to say is that if you check around and look at other sources the issue becomes VERY clouded quickly.

http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=9543

The fact that the Trophy system would not be able to be reloaded seems a critical vulnerability. Either way lets not get all hot and bothered till more information comes out.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://
I have extensive information regarding TROPHY.
The NBC report is almost 100% true. TROPHY provides 360 degree protection, on moving platform and complies with all Army requirements. Full compliance has been stated in GDLS/ RAFAEL proposal for the FCS. TROPHY also complied fully with the FCS RFP requirement to provide operationaly proven solution to the SBCT in the beginning of 2008. Nevertheless, they have chosen RAYTHEON, and not surprisingly, RAYTHEON chose themselves in the trade study for the current force. True, the US Army need to do some additional testing (beyond the IDF system qualification, but Quick-Kill will need to go through full qualification, which will start only after raytheon will have operational, production-line protoypes, astimated at 2011. So, even if some testing will be required (about 3-4 month at most)- TROPHY can be deployed by the end of 2077 at the latest.
During the Congress hearing, Gen.. Sorenson bluntly lied. He had formal replies regarding TROPHY status from Israeli officials, with answers to all Army questions, including the IDF schedules for TROPHY. I am also surprised that this information wasn’t available to Col (ret.) David Hunt in his interview on Fox News on September 25th, where he talked so much nonsense.

I hope that the GAO investigation will get deep into the truth and show the Army wrong processes and decisions. I wish I new how to provide relevant information to the GAO investigation, that might contribute.
 
Written By: Dafna
URL: http://

 
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