The U.S. Army looks to anti-missile technology to help protect its fleet of tanks

Nearly a decade ago, the Israeli defense systems company Rafael debuted an innovative anti-missile defense mechanism designed to protect armored vehicles and tanks from (you guessed it) missiles. Following years of overseas research and development, it appears this revolutionary tech is finally ready for the big leagues as the U.S. Army and Marine Corps are reportedly gearing up to test the system on its tanks. Called the Trophy Active Protection System, the device essentially defends vehicles it’s attached to by shooting incoming explosives with a turret-mounted shotgun. Effective? Incredibly. Required? Absolutely.

According to a recent report from the U.S. Naval Institute, the Army plans on leasing four of Rafael’s Trophy systems and intends to test the devices on its Stryker combat vehicle and M1A2 tanks. Additionally, the Marine Corps says it plans on putting Trophy through its paces as it’s currently modifying a few of its M1A1 tanks with mounts capable of holding the system. While speaking at a Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee hearing this week, Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh acknowledged how necessary tech like Trophy is to keep up with advancing anti-tank threats.

“When we start getting threats on our aircraft, our helicopters, our fixed wing aircraft, [from] infrared missiles, we quickly put out a capability to defeat those types of missiles,” Walsh said at the hearing. “Now we’re seeing the threat on the ground changing, becoming a much more sophisticated threat on the ground. What we’ve continued to do is up-armor our capabilities on the ground, put armor on them.”

An M1A1 Abrams tank
An M1A1 Abrams tank U.S. Navy / Mate 1st Class Ted Banks

Walsh continued by pointing out how the military must start thinking “more with a higher technology capability” to protect its vehicles. While adding more armor certainly has the ability to protect vehicles better, increasing armor increases weight which dramatically decreases the speed of the vehicle. If maneuvering away from RPGs or dodging IEDs is preferred, a slow vehicle is the last thing the military would want to deploy on any battlefield. Hence a renewed interest in Rafael’s innovative device.

Trophy operates in two modes: active and soft. Its active functionality works with its onboard sensors to detect incoming threats and then fire rounds intended to deflect those threats. Conversely, soft mode utilizes jammers in a manner similar to how most aircraft self-protection systems operate, in that it also actively detects threats and uses electronics to defend its host vehicle or tank.

Currently, the Navy already uses tech similar to Trophy but Walsh says the issue with implementing the device on land vehicles concerns its inherent weight and size. As mentioned above, it’s unrealistic to continue to add more weight to vehicles and expect them to keep functioning at a high level. However, if Trophy works as expected, the military’s armored vehicles and tanks could (feasibly) operate with a whole lot less armor — or none at all.

Though testing is scheduled to commence soon, it’s unknown when exactly the Army or Marine Corps plan on fully implementing Trophy into its battle-ready armored vehicles and tanks.

Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Outdoors

Built to take a beating and still perform, these are the best hiking watches

A proper hiking watch should track exercise metrics and act as a navigational co-pilot during any kind of hike. Ideally, it'll even have a built-in GPS system and sensors. Here are five of the best hiking watches.
Outdoors

Forget pumps. This innovative filter purifies H2O in 8 seconds flat

The Grayl Geopress water purification system removes more than 99 percent of all bacteria, cysts, and viruses from water in just eight seconds, providing clean drinking water to travelers and outdoor adventurers.
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.
Deals

Take to the skies with these 5 drones on sale for under $50

On the hunt for some cool tech for under $50? We've rounded up 5 drones under $50 that you can still get before Christmas. These models are great for kids, adults, and anyone just getting started with drones.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.