US Deploys Active Armor on Tanks in European Exercises

Tank and maintenance crews with 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, install reactive armor tiles onto a M1A2 Abrams tank.


The US Army has deployed the new Abrams Reactive Armor Tiles (ARAT) to its Abrams main battle tanks in Europe. The US Army Europe announced the deployment by tweeting images of their tanks fitted with the both the Trophy active system and the ARAT system installed.

The deployment is intended to allow the Army’s logistics teams to assess and experience moving and installing the system in the field.

The tanks are participating in DEFENDER-Europe 20, a US-led multinational exercise which includes participation from NATO.

It is the largest deployment of US-based forces in Europe in 25 years. 20,000 soldiers were deployed directly from the US to Europe. The exercise shows that the US is still comitted to NATO and that it intends to stand with its European Allies and Partners.

The tiles “are placed on both sides of the hull and turret,” Dilling said. “The reactive tiles prevent penetration [by] various weapon systems, such as rocket-propelled grenades.
The tiles “are placed on both sides of the hull and turret,” Dilling said. “The reactive tiles prevent penetration [by] various weapon systems, such as rocket-propelled grenades.

ARAT consists of 62 tiles which weigh a total of almost two tons. They are designed to explode away from the tank when impacted by rocket propelled grenades. The force of the tiles’ explosions push away the force of the grenades’ explosions which reduces the damage to the tank’s treads.

The ARAT system can be positioned to deflect blasts down to minimize the effect against nearby soldiers working outside of the tank or, mainly in urban areas, deflect the blast up and back towards the enemy attacking from a nearby rooftop.

ARAT adds protection in a way that does not impede the tank’s speed. Thus, the tank maintains mobility while gaining enhanced protection.

The Trophy active system was designed by the Israeli company RAFAEL. It is the only combat-proven active protection system and has been operational since 2011.

As part of the training in the exercise, US forces will mount the Trophy system on the Abrams tanks. Trophy is designed to defeat rocket propelled grenades, recoilless rifles and anti-tank guided missiles.

Soldiers with the 527 Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, participated in training to install the reactive tiles at the Bergen-Hohne Training Area in Germany. They were the first military police company to be trained on the installation procedure.

The U.S. Army Europe officials said that Abrams was equipped with visual modifications to simulate having the Trophy active protection system take part in Saber Guardian 19.
The U.S. Army Europe officials said that Abrams was equipped with visual modifications to simulate having the Trophy active protection system take part in Saber Guardian 19.

After installation, the soldiers loaded the tanks on a new vehicle system, the M1300 Enhanced Heavy Equipment Transport (EHET) Systems, which are designed to operate on German roads.

Phase one of DEFENDER-Europe 20 took place in June and involved 6,000 US and Polish soldiers at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland. Phase II runs from July 14 to August 22.

The exercises have had to be modified to protect soldiers from the effects of the COVID-19 virus pandemic that has overtaken the world. Some of the exercises scheduled to take place as part of DEFENDER-Europe 20 have had to be cancelled due to health concerns. NATO military medical staff is on alert and monitoring for any impact of the disease on the soldiers involved in the exercise as well as those on operations deployments.

The exercise is designed to demonstrate the US military’s ability to deploy a large force quickly in order to support NATO and respond to any crises.

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In the exercise, 20,000 troops and 13,000 pieces of equipment were deployed to Europe. They will move 4,000 kilometers to participate in additional exercises and then return to the US.