As we said earlier, the main factors limiting the use of armor protection on various types of ground equipment is its mass and dimensions. An attempt to make a tank capable of withstanding all-round shelling with all types of existing ammunition will lead to the appearance of a clumsy monster that is difficult to move and has great cost.
Superheavy fighting vehicles: the American experimental self-propelled artillery T28 (T95) weighing 86 tons, the German Panzerkampfwagen VIII "Maus" weighing 188,9 tons and the German project tank Landkreuzer p. 1000 ratte weighing 1000 tons
The most critical projections and individual units of armored vehicles are protected as much as possible. Historically, the most protected part of armored vehicles is the frontal part of the hull and turret (if any): it is it that is subjected to shelling by the enemy in a frontal attack in the first place.
Reservation zones with different levels of protection (conditional)
Sectional examples of tank armor
More precisely, it was relevant during the Second World War. Nowadays, attacks are no longer so linear, the front line is often absent, it is believed that military operations will more and more resemble a high-intensity partisan conflict in which the most high-tech weapons will be used. Under these conditions, armored vehicles can be attacked from any angle that the enemy considers the most vulnerable.
Another factor reducing the value of zone reservation is the proliferation of weapons that can attack the upper part of the building. It can be assumed that in the future, high-precision weaponcapable of recognizing the image of the target, it will be able to intelligently attack the least protected projections of the target, after recognizing its type by automatic guidance. Even if we throw all our efforts into booking the roof, promising ammunition may well be aimed at the side or even “dive” under the bottom.
FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile system hits armored targets in the least protected upper hemisphere
In these conditions, the question arises: is it really necessary to ensure the maximum reservation of the frontal part of the armored vehicle’s body? Perhaps the best solution would be to “smear” the armor evenly across the hull?
Although we cannot provide round-robin reservations against armor-piercing feathered sub-caliber shells (BOPS) and heavy anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), it may be possible to provide circular protection against quick-fire cannons of caliber up to 57 mm, light manual anti-tank grenade launchers (RPGs) and ATGMs , and, possibly, from the ammunition of the "shock core" type. In other words, to provide maximum protection against those threats that armored vehicles are most likely to encounter.
After all, if we talk about BOPS, the confrontation with which the heavy frontal armor of the tank is “sharpened” in the first place, then what is the likelihood of a tank meeting with an enemy tank? And what is the likelihood that the tank will be attacked by the Javelin ATGM or shot by a half-dozen RPGs?
The latest American M829A4 BOPS with a depleted uranium core for M1A2 SEP Abrams tanks is potentially capable of breaking through the armor of the latest Russian T-90M tanks
On the other hand, the crews of armored vehicles already have established tactics of warfare, an important element of which is the presence of powerful frontal armor. In addition, the presence of such a “shield” will allow to realize promising armored vehicles with electric propulsion automated maneuver similar to that described in the article “Defense of ground-based military equipment: take cover and dodge”when, when attacking, the armored vehicle automatically turns around with the frontal part of the hull towards the attacking ammunition.
In advanced armored vehicles with electric movement, advanced control systems can automatically or semi-automatically carry out a protective maneuver to evade enemy ammunition or change the position of the hull so that a possible hit would fall into the most protected part of the hull. In particular, in the presented image, based on an analysis of the type of attacking ammunition (speed, flight path) and surrounding terrain parameters, the control system may try to hide the armored car from an ATGM attack behind buildings (1, 2), or deploy it with the front of the hull towards attack (3)
However, as we have already said, from ammunition attacking from above and on the span, all this will not help, therefore, the question of the feasibility of enhanced reservation of the frontal part is not removed. So what will be the answer?
This issue should at least be worked out. It is possible that he will be removed at the stage of preliminary study, because the rejection of reinforced frontal armor will not significantly strengthen the remaining projections.
But another option is also possible, for example, when in case of refusal of reinforced frontal armor capable of withstanding BFPS and heavy ATGMs, we will get circular protection that can effectively withstand light RPGs, automatic guns of caliber up to 57 mm, as well as ammunition of the type “shock nucleus". At the same time, we will assign protection from BOPS and heavy ATGMs to KAZ.
At the same time, let's assume that the capabilities of a similar classic-style armored vehicle in all projections, except the frontal, provide protection only from guns with a caliber of up to 30 mm and limited protection against light RPGs.
It is unlikely that the armor of modern tanks of the classic layout will be able to withstand shells from a 57 mm gun
It is possible that the creation of two types of armored vehicles will be the optimal solution: with a classic reservation scheme, with the most protected frontal part, and with uniformly distributed armor protection. The former will be used mainly on flat terrain, and the latter in mountainous-wooded areas and during battles in settlements. In this case, the optimal booking scheme or the optimal ratio of armored vehicles of both types will help to identify the practice.
As part of the study of the American FCS program, when it became clear that the security of the 20-ton vehicle would be insufficient, a modular, optionally mounted armor was considered. It was assumed that the tank delivers one C-130, and the hinged armor the second. The idea, let’s say, is not viable. The fact that the number of flights doubles is half the trouble, but the fact that you need to hang 10-20 tons of armor on the tank near the front line is already worse. Will there be time for this, will the delivery fail? In fact, “unarmored” tanks, with corresponding consequences for them, would most likely go into battle.
However, modular armor can be useful if one considers modularity not as an opportunity to equip a combat vehicle before a battle and to permanently remove and attach armored elements, but as a way to simplify repair and modernization of a combat vehicle. In this case, modularity is rather a system of standards, uniform sizes and fixtures. Of course, the possibility of quick installation / dismantling of armored elements should not go to the detriment of their intended purpose - providing armor protection, i.e. armor should not crumble from the tank after the slightest hit, like autumn leaves from a tree from a gust of wind.
Modular armor can be useful to simplify the repair and modernization of promising combat vehicles; it is much more difficult to repair and upgrade the built-in armored elements
Another option may be considered, directly, however, not related to the concept of “modularity”. As you know, the width of armored vehicles is limited by the dimensions of the railway platforms. At the same time, some types of protection, for example, rather simple and effective anti-cumulative lattice screens, are advisable to move away from the case in order to ensure premature operation of the cumulative ammunition.
You can consider the implementation of automatic screens, lifting electric drives during transportation, lowering and locking in position. The presence of such automatic screens will allow transportation of armored vehicles without going beyond the required dimensions and provide additional protection during combat work.
Automatic protective screens
The mass of such screens will be limited by the power of electric drives and mounts that hold the screens in a "combat" position. At a minimum, these can be anti-cumulative gratings that are placed at an optimum distance from the housing. It is impossible to exclude a denser arrangement of protective screens when blocks of composite and foam materials can be placed behind the cumulative gratings: lightweight and durable, but quite voluminous.
Composite structured and foamed materials are considered one of the important directions for the development of promising armor.
In principle, the crew can use the lifting screens in different tactical situations and in the upper position, for example, when the lower part of the hull is covered by the terrain. This will limit the possibility of turning the turret, but it will not interfere with the operation of the remotely controlled weapon module with a machine gun or automatic cannon.
The most important factor that enhances protected armored vehicles is the availability of active protection systems, which we will discuss in the next article.