The Israeli Ministry of Defense have announcedthat a variant of Elbit Land Systems’ hard-kill Iron Fist Active Protection System (APS) will be adopted for Israeli Army D9 armoured bulldozers and the new Eitan armoured personnel carrier (APC). Delivery of hundreds of sets of Iron Fist to the Israeli Army will be staged over the next decade.
According to reports in the Israeli press, a number of competitor products were trialled, including the Rafael Trophy which is currently mounted on Israeli Merkava Mk3 and Mk4 main battle tanks (MBTs) and Namer heavy APC along with US Army M1A1 and M1A2 series MBTs.
The Iron Fist variant selected is known as Light-Decoupled (IF-LD). The likely key to its selection may be its lighter weight (329 kilograms), more compact dimensions and reduced power draw on the hosting vehicle – a problem which has marred Trophy adoption on the US Army Stryker family as previously reported by Overt Defense.
Iron Fist is a hard-kill APS, defeating incoming ordnance at a stand-off distance from the vehicle reducing the risk of penetration by surviving fragments although such a system poses risks for accompanying infantry. This may be more of a challenge with the recently adopted eight wheeled Eitan (“steadfast”) armoured personnel carrier due to enter service next year to replace the aging M113 fleet. The Eitan will carry a full squad of infantry and, like earlier efforts with explosive reactive armour (ERA) blocks, the protection system will require careful integration to ensure the safety of dismounts.
The further adoption of the system by Israel follows news earlier this year that the Australian Army are examining Iron Fist for the Lance turrets on their Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles which are due into service next year to replace the Australian modified LAV (Light Armoured Vehicle), the ASLAV (AuStralian Light Armoured Vehicle). The IF-LD variant of Iron Fist has also been selected as the preferred APS option for the US Army’s Bradley family of infantry fighting vehicles and is being trialled by the UK’s Ministry of Defence.