Army to Spend $450 Million on Upgrades to M1 Tanks, Strykers

An Abrams tank crew await their iteration during a proficiency qualification table during the 1-9 Cavalry gunnery. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Patrick Eakin)
An Abrams tank crew await their iteration during a proficiency qualification table during the 1-9 Cavalry gunnery. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Patrick Eakin)

The U.S. Army is focused on building a future force, but it also recently decided to spend $451 million to upgrade M1 Abrams tanks and Stryker combat vehicles.

The service awarded a contract worth up to $193 million to Leonardo DRS for the Trophy Active Protection System in support of "immediate operational requirements" to protect M1 tanks from incoming enemy missiles, according to a June 26 news release.

The Army has been testing the Israeli Trophy system, made by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., on the M1 as a way of countering the proliferation of sophisticated anti-armor missiles in countries such as Russia and China.

Leonardo DRS, a U.S. firm partnered with Rafael, will provide the Trophy systems, countermeasures and maintenance kits, the release states.

"Leonardo DRS is proud to be a part of this important effort to bring life-saving technology to our warfighters, and we are actively investing to ensure Trophy provides a solid, American-made foundation for the Army's coming Vehicle Protection Suite program," said Aaron Hankins, vice president and general manager of the Leonardo DRS Land Systems Division.

Rafael has also provided other protection technology to the U.S., such as passive and reactive armor for the Bradley fighting vehicle, according to the release.

"The majority of Trophy components are manufactured by the American defense industry, and we are excited by the opportunity to increase manufacturing in the U.S., including for Israeli systems, as the U.S. acquires additional systems," said Moshe Elazar, executive vice president and head of Rafael's Land and Naval Division.

The Army also recently awarded a contract worth up to $258 million to General Dynamics Land Systems to upgrade 116 Stryker vehicles to the A1 variant.

The Stryker A1 is built on the Double-V Hull variant, designed to protect against mines and homemade explosive devices. The A1 will provide a 450-horsepower engine, 60,000-pound suspension, 910A alternator and in-vehicle network, according to a recent GDLS press release.

Officials say the Army will continue to modernize its current fleet combat platforms, but they maintain that the service must eventually replace the Big Five platforms -- the M1 tank, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, AH-64 Apache gunship and the Patriot air defense system.

Last October, the Army launched a new modernization strategy to take on the ambitious task. The new strategy will be built around six new modernization priorities -- long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, a mobile network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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