U.S. Army conducts first physical test on modular active protection systems

By Kimberly CobbMay 8, 2017

WARREN, Mich. -- The U.S. Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command's Modular Active Protection Systems, or MAPS, program successfully completed its first physical test, a soft-kill demonstration, known as SKD, last month. The demonstration allowed program researchers to finally bridge the gap between software and systems.

MAPS is a multi-year RDECOM-wide effort led by the Detroit Arsenal-based U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center and worked in collaboration with the acquisition community and industry. MAPS delivers an enduring framework and controller that provide the quickest path to active protection systems that are modular, upgradeable and safety compliant for ground vehicles across the fleet. MAPS will enable state-of-the-art protection to save the lives of Soldiers and Marines.

Key deliverables of the program are a MAPS Framework, or MAF, and a safety-compliant Modular APS Controller, or MAC. The framework is based on open systems architecture principles and allows the integration of MAF-compliant APS sensors and countermeasures. The controller facilitates implementation in a manner that results in significant reductions in overall cost, schedule and risk.

The April 2017 live-fire SKD was the culmination of the work the team of Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and government engineers have been performing for many months to integrate APS soft-kill subsystem components using the tenants of the MAPS framework. The evaluation demonstrated the first end-to-end engagement--from cue to defeat--of an APS using the MAPS approach, as well as verified and validated assumptions in the MAF Knowledge Point 3 Standards and protocol standards. MAPS KPs are MAF updates that are released to industry and academic partners on a periodic basis to keep collaboration partners in the loop, ensuring they are able to actively contribute to the MAF development process. The release of MAF 1.0 in June 2017 will mark the largest and most important so far and represent the consolidation of all of the KPs released to date.

"Through this series of tests, the MAPS team was able to successfully satisfy the primary objectives of the test, which were to validate the use of the Audio Video Bridging deterministic ethernet protocol, and demonstrate that the subsystems were able to successfully cue, compute and defeat the threat," said Matt Nowc, TARDEC engineer and MAPS demonstrator lead.

"It also allowed us to verify that insertion of a controller built on government and industry approved open standards and common interfaces provides the overall system performance we require. The resulting data and protocol implementation from the demonstration will be used in future design decisions in the ongoing Modular APS development efforts."

The MAPS system demo represents a major step toward delivering a much needed framework and controller that will enable consistent integration of APS to provide protection from advanced threats at an optimized weight, facilitate transition with commonality across the vehicle fleet, allow APS to be tailored to meet specific needs, and lay the foundation for Vehicle Protection Suite (VPS) technologies.

Anyone interested in participating in the MAPS Community of Interest and influencing the future of APS is invited to join by emailing ashleys@ncms.org.


The U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Material Command.