courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Israeli Namer IFV with Trophy Active Protection System. (File)

TEL AVIV: In a new strategy to help sell its Trophy active protection system abroad, Israeli firm Rafael announced Thursday it has formed a new joint venture with General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) and German firm Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), under the name EuroTrophy.

Registered in Germany, the new company will “provide potential marketing opportunities, sales and production” of Trophy to European markets, as well as “supply potential vehicle integration services and related through-life support of the APS,” according to a press release. Assuming there are no legal or regulatory issues, the company will be established before the end of the year.

The new joint venture will focus its business activity on the European market, including growing existing buys in Germany and the UK, a senior company official told Breaking Defense, saying “An expansion to other markets is feasible and will be a subject of joint agreement by the founding parties according to a set of variables such as the market demand, regulatory approvals etc.”

That would seem to be a clear reference to the United States, where Rafael is teamed with Leonardo DRS to pitch Trophy to the US Army. However, the official refused to be more specific about future plans until all the regulatory approval are made.

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The company official noted that the joint venture is being formed at a time when there are forecasts for major growth in the acquisition of armored vehicles. For instance, the Global Market Insights research group stated last October that the vehicle armor market size will likely expand by 4.5% between 2020 and 2026.

“Rising military expenditures will accelerate the pace of procurement of armored vehicles in the upcoming years,” the report states. “The global military expenditure increased by over 7% during 2010 to 2019. Increasing conflicts and unstable political situations will change the course of combat operations. Global terrorism is another major threat faced by many countries, compelling them to strengthen their armaments. Additionally, growing concerns associated with small ballistic arms will generate the need for efficient vehicle armors by land armament sectors.”

Originally developed by Rafael in response to anti-armor attacks against Israeli forces, Trophy has been in use since 2011 by the IDF to protect against rockets and missiles while simultaneously identifying the origin of the hostile fire — key to quickly eliminating the threat.

Rafael claims the system has accrued over one million operating hours and is now under contract for serial production on over 1,800 systems globally. In addition to the IDF’s Merkava Main Battle Tanks and Namer APCs, the system is used on both the British and Germany main battle tanks, as well as US Army Abrams tanks.

Yoav Har-Even, Rafael’s CEO, called the EuroTrophy establishment a strategic milestone for Rafael, saying “now with the establishment of EuroTrophy, we are confident that additional European countries will join the growing family of Trophy users, to protect their troops and assets from the growing challenges and threats on the battlefield.”

For his part, KMW’s CEO, Ralf Ketzel, said the move is “a clear commitment to Germany as a prime business location and underscores the importance of active protection systems

And added Alfonso Ramonet, president of GDELS, “With EuroTrophy we will make a significant step into an important adjacent market for military vehicles since advanced protection technologies will play a crucial role for crew survivability in the future.”

RELATED: Trophy VPS For Stryker: Half The Weight, All The Protection?

Rafael remains focused on the US as a growing customer for Trophy as well.

According to the company, the US Army has already equipped four Abrams MBT brigades with the system. Guy Bitton, marketing manager for Rafael’s land maneuver systems directorate, told Breaking Defense that negotiations are underway for equipping “some additional” brigades with the systems.

Rafael is also targeting other American military vehicles as potential Trophy customers. The primary target is the Stryker, for which the Israeli firm is offering its Trophy Medium Variant (Trophy MV). According to the company, the MV — which uses the same core the sensor suite, mission computer, and algorithms as the main Trophy design — is about 40% less in weight and size of the standard Trophy, and is more affordable.

The Army plans to test the Trophy, along with competitor Rheinmetall’s StrikeShield system, on a test vehicle starting in four quarter of fiscal 2022.

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