Can a lightning strike break the active defense system of the Drozd tank

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Source: vitalykuzmin.net

We admit honestly, this topic is very strange and in practice it is unlikely to be useful, but for the sake of interest you can look. The fact is that a lightning strike into a tank is a very rare, almost isolated, but dangerous phenomenon. The crew may not be killed by the most powerful electric charge, but, for example, radio stations, whose antennas take a blow from heaven, sometimes flare up like matches, leading to the burnout of the entire combat vehicle.

And what will happen to the active protection complex? Still, complex electronics, radar sensors with active radiation, and all this outside tank. Consider this on the example of the Soviet KAZ "Drozd", which was once an advanced solution for protecting tanks, but, unfortunately, has already gone into history. At the same time, we will find out how Drozd will behave in the zone of an electromagnetic pulse during a single-phase short circuit of high-voltage power lines.



Must work in all conditions


It will not be erroneous to say that almost everyone who is interested in armored vehicles has heard about the Drozd in one way or another, a little deeper than watching the “tank biathlon”. So he doesn't need any special introduction. Nevertheless, it is still worth talking a little about it. Still, the world's first mass-produced tank complex of active protection, which was put into service in 1983 in the USSR and became an indispensable attribute of the T-55AD tanks.

Components of KAZ "Drozd" on the tank. Source: odetievbrony.ru
Components of KAZ "Drozd" on the tank. Source: odetievbrony.ru

In fact, "Drozd" is a system of active counteraction to tank-attacking cumulative ammunition with a flight speed of 70 to 700 m / s by damaging or destroying them. Structurally, it consists of two dual launchers for 107-mm counter-munitions along the sides of the tower with radar stations (RLS) installed there, a computer unit in the rear of the tower, as well as a control panel and a work counter located inside the tank at the workplaces of the towers.

Dual launcher and transceiver with radar on board the turret. Source: vitalykuzmin.net
Dual launcher and transceiver with radar on board the turret. Source: vitalykuzmin.net

In the course of combat work, the radars continuously probe the space around the tank and take on “control” potentially dangerous projectiles that are at a distance of up to 330 meters from the protected vehicle. If the projectile flies in the direction of the tank, then from a distance of 130 meters the computing equipment switches to tracking mode, and at a distance of 6,7 meters the counter-munition is fired and detonated, whose fragmentation flow and explosion energy hit the attacking body.

Block of computing equipment "Drozda" at the stern of the tower. Source: vitalykuzmin.net
Block of computing equipment "Drozda" at the stern of the tower. Source: vitalykuzmin.net

It is worth noting that during the development of Drozd, it was necessary to solve problems not only to ensure the operability of the complex and its correct and long-term functioning in difficult conditions. The priority was also increased noise immunity of this product in order to avoid false positives and “jamming” of the radar if tanks with KAZ operate at a short distance from each other.

As a result, the engineers managed to solve all the problems. Moreover, Drozd had quite good resistance to an electromagnetic pulse from a nearby nuclear explosion, since a tactical nuclear weapon was considered as one of the main factors of a possible war with NATO.

But a nuclear explosion is one thing, and an electromagnetic pulse from a power line short circuit and powerful lightning bolts is another. Here "Drozd" could not stand it.

The Thrush's life is short if the lightning strikes from above


Like it or not, but the Soviet period was still a golden time for designers, testers and representatives of other professions related to the development of military equipment. Bureaucracy, inflexible system and other unpleasant things were present, but the funding was at the level. Largely thanks to him, rather strange experiments were carried out, and this one was no exception.

Its authors described the essence of the problem as follows. We plan to fight in Europe, that is, in the Western theater of operations, and there the infrastructure and industry are quite well developed. As a result, there is an abundance of power lines, which, due to explosions of shells or collisions with supports, can break / close and damage the tank's systems. Yes, and the danger of a lightning strike is present, so the "Drozd" must be checked.

Of course, for such studies, the tank was not driven into an open field in anticipation of a lightning strike and was not placed under broken and shorted power lines. Special imitators of such events were also perfect.

To check whether the Drozd could withstand a lightning strike, a GINT-4/1 pulsed current and voltage generator was used. It consisted of a high-voltage capacitor, a switch, an electrode and other equipment - a schematic diagram is attached below.

Schematic diagram of the GINT-4/1 installation. Source: "Testing a tank with the 1030M complex on a stand simulating a short circuit of high-voltage power lines" Yu.A. Belov, V.L. Pavlenko and others.
Schematic diagram of the GINT-4/1 installation. Source: "Testing a tank with the 1030M complex on a stand simulating a short circuit of high-voltage power lines." Yu. A. Belov, V. L. Pavlenko and others.

A tank with an active protection complex was installed under an electrode hanging above it at a height of one meter. The impulse of an imitation lightning current discharge was modulated with a long attenuation. In this case, the maximum amplitude was 80 amperes.

The tank was tested with imitation of different situations, when the engine is turned on or off, the Drozd is turned on or off. As a result, since no other data is indicated, the maximum damage to the Drozd was inflicted when it was on and the tank engine was running.

First of all, the Drozd's defense system was "knocked out", which prevents accidental injuries to crew members. In fact, it consists of magnetoelectric switches of the "Girkon" type. Everyone has come across these elements - they are used, for example, in alarms against thieves. At the T-55AD, they are installed on the hatch covers, and only when they are closed (when the hatches are closed) can the Drozd be put into operation so that the crew does not get hurt by fragments of counter-munitions fired and the shells they hit on approach.

Also, the D223B diode and the RES48B relay in the control and switching unit of the active protection complex failed. Considering that most of the Drozd's equipment is outside the tank on the turret, it's good that only these damages were limited, and there were no fires and other things. However, the system was completely disabled and the tank no longer protected.

And what about the electromagnetic impulse during a single-phase short circuit of power lines?

To study the behavior of the Drozd in this situation, the tank was placed inside a rectangular inductive coil, through which an electric current was supplied when the capacitor was discharged. The magnetic field strength was 3 kA/m.

An installation that simulates an electromagnetic field during a single-phase short circuit of a power line. Source: "Testing a tank with the 1030M complex on a stand simulating a short circuit of high-voltage power lines" Yu.A. Belov, V.L. Pavlenko and others.
An installation that simulates an electromagnetic field during a single-phase short circuit of a power line. Source: "Testing a tank with the 1030M complex on a stand simulating a short circuit of high-voltage power lines." Yu. A. Belov, V. L. Pavlenko and others.

Here the complex of active protection turned out to be more resistant. A total failure in operation was recorded when current was applied to the coil and the Drozd was turned on, when the axis of the tank turret was parallel to the direction of the magnetic field vector. That is, the situation is hardly more frequent than a lightning strike - also with a near-zero probability.

But the situation is much more dangerous. The fact is that this time "Drozd" still worked abnormally. Under the influence of an electromagnetic pulse, the EKV-2V electric ignition devices were triggered, which ignite propellant powder charges of counter-munitions, as a result of which they are fired. And okay, if there is no one nearby, at most the tank will lose all eight counter-munitions loaded into the Drozd launchers. And if there is, then a hail of fragments flying like a fan will be a very unpleasant and deadly surprise.

In addition, the currents and voltage induced by the electromagnetic pulse in the main circuits connecting the active protection components exceeded safe values. Whether something broke in the end is not reported. Although there is enough contingency shooting.

Hack and predictor Aviator


The conclusion of the experimenters was appropriate: when developing new electrical systems for combat vehicles, it is necessary to take into account the safety of their operation in conditions of a lightning strike and short circuits of power lines. However, it seems that it is unlikely that anyone later did this - after all, these situations are quite rare.

Is it possible to transfer the results of these Drozd tests to other active protection systems, especially modern ones? Probably, it is possible, because the loads from such electrical and electromagnetic “shocks” are prohibitive for electronics. Nevertheless, they should not list this factor as a minus simply because the cases are painfully exotic. In general, the information is solely for general development.

Information sources:
"Testing a tank with the 1030M complex on a stand simulating a short circuit of high-voltage power lines." Yu. A. Belov, V. L. Pavlenko and others.
Tank Defense. V. A. Grigoryan, E. G. Yudin and others.
18 comments
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  1. +5
    16 November 2022 08: 38
    Can a lightning strike break the active defense system of the Drozd tank

    Can a piece of an old balcony slab from above hit you on the head when you pass by
    Maybe laughing
    1. +1
      16 November 2022 09: 58
      Therefore, we urgently put on all helmets and shoulder pads) wassat
      1. +1
        16 November 2022 11: 12
        Therefore, we urgently put on all helmets and shoulder pads)

        Well, I remember one video from twenty years ago. A man is inside a ball of metal mesh and lightning, peeling from all sides into the ball. Looked effective.
        And about the electronic equipment - the Americans have a strict list of components allowed for aircraft (civil and military). Was very surprised. There are very few firms and a very poor assortment admitted to this. It is because of the resistance to EMI and lightning protection.
        1. +1
          16 November 2022 16: 06
          You will be surprised, but we also have the same. And just the problem with the lack of UAVs for a long time was from the same series. And it was impossible to operate the old UAVs at all because of the backwardness of the control filling and video filming, look, dill tried.
    2. 0
      20 January 2023 07: 52
      Well, that was the case a few months ago. The peasants went out to smoke on the Khrushchev balcony, and take the stove and break it off, and below people passed ...
  2. 0
    16 November 2022 09: 41
    I always have three questions about Drozd:
    1. Why was it installed on the T-55 (not on the more modern T62/64/72/80)
    2. Why did you stop development?
    3. Are there any statistics? Youtube has 1 application video in poor quality.
    1. +3
      16 November 2022 13: 09
      Quote: Zaurbek
      1. Why was it installed on the T-55 (not on the more modern T62/64/72/80)
      KAZ "Drozd" on the T-80

      Quote: Zaurbek
      2. Why did you stop development?

      Russia is expected to test another complex of active protection of armored vehicles TKB-0252, which has the code "Drozd-2".
      https://rg.ru/2020/01/13/novyj-rossijskij-kompleks-aktivnoj-zashchity-drozd-2-ispytaiut-na-t-72bk.html
      1. 0
        16 November 2022 13: 44
        Agree, this complex was made at a time when the USSR Armed Forces were stationed in Germany and our tanks had to reach the English Channel. And not the T55 were the main fist of the group.
    2. +1
      16 November 2022 14: 38
      1. For trial operation, as a result of which the system would be improved and installed on more modern machines
      2. Because the union collapsed and the defense power of the Russian Federation was no longer needed
      3. Maybe somewhere there is, but obviously not on YouTube
  3. 0
    16 November 2022 12: 51
    A lightning strike on an airplane does not lead to a tragedy. Simply, when creating a device, this must be taken into account (shielding of wires that go outside, grounding, etc.). Measures cheap in cost (with the exception of protecting the radio with its antenna)
  4. +1
    16 November 2022 13: 46
    Can a lightning strike break the active defense system of the Drozd tank

    The question to the Armenian radio immediately comes to mind: "Is it possible to kill an oak tree with horseradish?" Answer: "You can, if the horseradish is oak, and the oak is horseradish."
    In reality, the tank, due to the fact that it is a "huge conductive piece of iron", will not even notice a lightning strike.
    1. 0
      16 November 2022 21: 08
      "a huge conductive piece of iron" will not even notice a lightning strike.
      And I noticed during the tests (see the text of the article).
  5. 0
    17 November 2022 18: 46
    To be honest, I absolutely don’t care how the active protection complex will behave after a lightning strikes it.
    But I would very much like to know how the active protection complex will behave during the hostilities in Ukraine. Only for some reason we never saw a single complex on tanks
    1. +2
      21 November 2022 16: 47
      First, crews from majors should appear there. Then KAZ will appear quickly, even if it is purchased abroad.
      1. +1
        21 November 2022 18: 40
        Quote: tank64rus
        First, crews from majors should appear there. Then KAZ will appear quickly, even if it is purchased abroad.

        Here I completely agree.
        One can cite as an example armor in the form of a full plate suit of some fifteenth-sixteenth century, when the rich themselves had to go into battle in the first line. This would be the protection on tanks if rich sons were driving in them
        1. 0
          7 January 2023 14: 09
          Well, that's a good analogy. Can a lightning strike break a knight and full armor complex? And on a horse? And if you get hit by lightning in a charged gun? Or maybe then guns are not needed, you never know? ...
          And, in my opinion, protecting a tank from lightning is more useful than from "falling wires on a tank in densely electrified cities in Europe." About the wires, it reminds the attempts of the graduate student to give more justifications for the implementation of his work ....
  6. 0
    30 December 2022 19: 13
    Type "Girkon"
    ??
    It's not a proper name, it's an acronym.
    Reed switch - from "sealed contact".
    Somehow embarrassing...
  7. 0
    24 January 2023 16: 20
    For those interested. In the old days in the USSR, before accepting something for service, it passed all the tests according to the State Standards "Moroz". There was a stand in Kharkov - a giant reel. They put the product inside and checked for EMP, for lightning and for a high-voltage cable falling on the tank, and only then they took it to Donguz and checked for various exposures. In those days, they worked in earnest, not make-believe.