CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON DC United States
Active Protection Systems APSs are subsystems integrated into or installed on a combat vehicle to automatically acquire, track, and respond with hard or soft kill capabilities to a variety of threats, including rocket-propelled grenades RPGs and anti-tank guided missiles ATGMs. APS technologies are not new, and a number of nations have already employed APS on the battlefield. The U.S. military is now beginning to include APS as part of its formal combat vehicle modernization plans and, if the initial deployment of APS proves successful, could expand the use of APS to potentially thousands of tactical military vehicles-a complex and potentially costly undertaking. The proliferation of advanced RPGs and ATGMs is of concern to some defense officials and policymakers, including Congress. These weapons-RPGs in particular-have been particularly popular with insurgents because they are readily available, relatively inexpensive, and require little training. Israels experiences with RPGs and ATGMs in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War and the 2014 Gaza Conflict and growing concerns with Russian military capabilities and activities in Eastern Europe have possibly served as catalysts for intensifying U.S. APS efforts. Technical and operational challenges to APS include being able to work under extremely demanding circumstances and compressed timelines, robustness against countermeasures, minimizing the threat to friendly forces and civilians, being compatible with the space and power allocated to it on the vehicle, and affordability. A number of nations have operationally deployed APS on combat vehicles-Russia and Israel most notably-and some experts characterize U.S. efforts as somewhat lagging. U.S. military officials contend there are still a number of developmental and safety challenges that must be overcome before current APS systems are suitable for battlefield deployment.